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Safety first when using a ladder for outside chores!

Nothing like a year being stuck at home to remind us just how important our homes are! The flurry of activity and booming business at lumber and home improvement stores this past year just reinforces the heart knowledge that there is no place like home!

As you put together ways to maintain and improve your home, yard and any outbuildings, first it’s helpful to survey what winter’s impact has been to your biggest investment.

Last week we encouraged you to wash the outside of your windows, look for missing or damaged siding or trim, clean gutters of any leaves, branches, needles or gunk from fall and winter storms. We also suggested you open any foundation vents you closed, make sure that soil and bark don’t touch untreated wood framing or siding and then take a look at your overall property as someone who is first seeing it would see it.

One of things we didn’t emphasize, which we feel strongly about it, is to make sure safety is always in the foremost of your mind – especially as you chores bring you, or a loved one, up onto a ladder.

Always use a ladder stand-off

Whatever chore that takes you up on an extension ladder opens you to one of the most common causes of severe fall trauma. People tend to lean out too far to one side or another which can make the ladder slide sideways and down you go!

But let’s first start at the bottom of the ladder. 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. Take note: It’s better to dig into the ground and bury a leg than building up a tippy platform.

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.

Step ladders, especially short ones with nothing to hold onto, are just as dangerous.

Three-legged ladders are safer than four particularly on rough ground, but 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. Never, ever stand on the top rung of the ladder!

If you don’t have a ladder standoff, you can borrow one from us. (Just e-mail Dave at to make arrangements.) In addition, Harbor Tool Rental carries proper ladders. They can be reached at (360) 533-6363.

Stay away from the roof’s mast

As long as we’re talking safety, remember the electrical mast on the roof of each house is 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.

If you know you plan to work near the overhead electrical mast or perhaps will be trimming or falling trees that could touch it, first call the Grays Harbor Public Utility at (360) 532-4220. The service dispatcher may make the arrangements resulting in a PUD crew onsite to determine the safest approach for wires in the way.

Reminder of Spring Cleanup dates

Do you have items you need to throw away? While other cities in Grays Harbor have already completed their Spring Cleanup, which included a free trip to the LeMay Transfer Station, if you happen to live in Westport or Cosmopolis, you are still in luck!

Westport – From May 1-31, residents of Westport have Spring Cleanup. During this time, they can have a free trip to the transfer station for one car or truck load up to one ton. Regular household garbage and hazardous waste are not allowed. Up to four small tires can be disposed of. Charges apply for refrigerators, freezers and large tires.

Cosmopolis – A free trip to the dump for a pick-up load or small trailer size of truck bed is available to residents from June 14-19. Contact City Hall for more information, including how to pick up a voucher.

Remember, the transfer station is now at 29 Gavett Lane N., in Montesano. The Spring Cleanup hours for those with vouchers are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The transfer station is closed on Sundays.

If you have questions about your city’s program, give your City Hall a call.


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