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With chillier temperatures ahead, plenty of homeowners will be kept busy with some home maintenance projects such as clearing leaves and debris from the gutters and hanging holiday decorations, all tasks which typically require a ladder.


Ladders are generally relatively simple to operate, but that does not make them less dangerous to use, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Extension housing and consumer specialist and interim associate dean.


“If you’re careless in using a ladder, it could lead to serious injury or even death,” Peek said.


Since ladders come in a lot of different styles and sizes, it is important homeowners select the right one for the task.


“Knowing details such as how high you need to reach, the amount of weight on the ladder and whether you’ll be working inside or outside will help guide your choice of ladder for a particular task,” Peek said.


The base of the ladder should be placed on a solid, level surface. Never put a ladder on a box or other object to add more height.


When climbing, face the ladder, grip the rungs and not the sides, and do not climb on the top step or bucket shelf.


“Keep three points of contact on the ladder at all times, either both hands and one foot or two feet and one hand,” Peek said. “As an added precaution, have someone hold the bottom of the ladder steady and guard any nearby doors that could swing open and knock the ladder off balance while it’s occupied.”


Only one person should be on the ladder at one time. Also, rather than lean or overreach, reposition the ladder as necessary.


“Keep an eye on the weather. If it turns bad, carefully climb off and wait for conditions to improve. Also, avoid using extension ladders when it’s windy,” Peek said.


For more information on safely using ladders, contact the nearest county OSU Extension office and visit the American Ladder Institute website.

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