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Ladder stand-off can be a lifesaver

Summertime is the time for so many home maintenance projects from cleaning your gutters and inspecting your roof to washing or painting your house.

While we’ve mentioned it in recent blogs, it’s been a while since we really concentrated on the importance of ladder safety. So here we go!

When working “up” not only does one need to have the proper equipment, but it’s also key to have the right know-how as well.

Ladder stand-off is a must

Whatever chore that takes you up on an extension ladder – gutter cleaning, roof inspecting, house painting – it opens you up to one of the most common causes of severe fall trauma. People tend to lean out too far to one side – to get that last little area without moving the ladder – which can make the ladder slide sideways and down you go!

However, before talking about the dangers at the top of the ladder, we’d like to start at the beginning – the ground.

Safety begins with solid, level ground for each of the ladder’s legs. Sometimes you have to modify the grade to create a safer platform. When it comes to safety, it’s usually better to dig into the ground and bury the long leg than building up a tippy platform to support a shorter one.

Once the ground is solid, with even footing, test the ladder from the lower rungs and then all the way up. Your spouse and neighbors would think you were brilliant if you tied the ladder off to the house, too!

An extension ladder leaning on a smooth gutter is one of the worst scenarios leading to DIY injuries and death. Again, our arms are too short to clean out gutters efficiently which makes us lean out further to the side than we should and who’s prepared when the ladder slides down the gutter? So besides using a tool to extend our reach, there is one tool that can prevent ladder falls altogether if you place it correctly in the first place.

A ladder stand-off device is waiting for you at your local hardware store. It’s a great gift and even that four-year-old at the bottom of the ladder, who depends on you for everything, could have easily attached this device to the top of daddy’s ladder before he bravely ascended. When used properly, it could save the whole family from a remaining life of misery.

It’s not just extension ladders that can cause injury, step ladders, especially short ones with nothing to hold onto, are just as dangerous.

While three-legged ladders are safer than those with four legs, particularly on rough ground, each leg of any ladder must be firmly embedded on hard surface. An adult helper holding onto the ladder is a good practice and so is getting the next size ladder when you really need to get up onto the last two rungs. Standing on the top rung of the ladder is never a good idea – and most newer ladders say that right on them.

Want to borrow our tools?

Ladder stand-off attachments are one of the things that we loan out free-of-charge here at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor.

Thanks to a generous donation by COSMO Manufacturing in Cosmopolis, we have a very practical way of helping you with your DIY projects. So, instead of investing in your own equipment, you can borrow from our painting and house-washing equipment.

In addition to ladder stand-off attachments, this includes tools such as pump sprayers and long-handled brushes, rollers and roller racks, caulk guns, putty knives, scrapers, wire brushes, drop clothes and buckets. (Sorry, but it does not include ladders, paint sprayers or power washers.)

If you would like to borrow some of these tools for free, simply e-mail Dave at We can make an appointment to meet at our Aberdeen office and – in a socially distanced way – get those tools to you.

Stay away from the mast

When working on overhead house projects, the ladder isn’t the only thing to be concerned with -- the electrical mast on the roof of each house is also not something to be toyed with.

Whether you are repairing or cleaning the roof, washing or painting your house or even just doing some tree-trimming, be aware of that mast and the electrical wires it supports. And stay far away!

Just like when you are digging in the ground, and can call ahead to prepare, if you know you will be working near the overhead electrical mast or perhaps trimming or falling trees that could touch it, first call the Grays Harbor Public Utility (360) 532-4220. The service dispatcher will make the arrangements resulting in a PUD crew onsite to determine the safest approach for wires in the way.

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