DIY gutter cleaning is a safety hazard. Every year, over 100,000 Americans receive emergency medical treatment for ladder-related injuries. And among the four thousand occupational deaths that occur each year, 25% are caused by elevated height.
These are frightening statistics. If DIY gutter cleaning is part of your home maintenance to-do list, we urge you to take ladder safety seriously.
Some of these tips may seem obvious, but people take unnecessary risks and think an accident will never happen to them. Until it does.
5 Most Common Ladder Safety Mistakes
Most ladder accidents can be avoided if DIYers learn about the five most common ladder mistakes that cause injury and death.
1: Using the Wrong Ladder for the Job
Every ladder on the market today is designed for a specific purpose and maximum weight.
Sure, ladder manufacturers are covering their liability exposure, but the fact is, using a ladder above the maximum weight warning is unsafe.
Be sure you and the DIY gutter cleaning gear you carry, stay within your ladder’s weight capacity.
Also, ensure that you are using the correct extension capability. Never attempt to reach higher than the ladder’s maximum height to decrease your chances of a fall.
2: Using the Ladder Incorrectly
Don’t get creative and use a ladder for any other purpose than what the manufacturer recommends.
People use standard ladders as bridges across structures or on stairs, for instance. Or walk down backward.
Many accidents also occur because the person’s hands are full, and their weight distribution is off balance.
3: Using an Old or Damaged Ladder
Your wooden ladder may have served you well for many years, but if the wood shows signs of splitting or warping, or isn’t stable, ditch it for a new one.
The same rule applies to metal ladders; they and their hardware wear out too. Avoid using them if you spot rust or warped metal.
4: Always Maintain Three Points of Contact
Three points of contact refer to having both feet and at least one hand on the ladder at all times.
Leaning over and stretching to grab hold of something is dangerous. Your center of gravity shifts with the change in position, increasing the likelihood of a fall.
If you are climbing high or working near the top of the ladder, ask another person to hold and anchor the ladder on the ground.
5: Incorrectly Placing the Ladder
Placing your ladder on firm, level ground is a priority for your safety. It is a significant factor in keeping your balance.
Never place a ladder in front of a door or other areas that can move or open.
And we see this all the time with DIY gutter cleaning.
Don’t lean your ladder against your gutters.
Aside from unintentionally damaging them, it causes your ladder to slide, tip, and fall.
How To Clean Gutters Without A Ladder
As a homeowner, you know gutter cleaning is needed at least once a year to prevent clogs that lead to rainwater overflow.
And you may not want to climb a ladder because you don’t feel safe. So, you may consider one of the many gadgets on the market to clean your gutters from the safety of the ground.
DIY Gutter Cleaning Attachments
You can purchase attachments that fit on the end of a leaf blower or shop vac intended to allow you to clean your gutters from the ground.
The problem is, how do you know you’ve thoroughly cleaned your gutters? The only way to check is by climbing a ladder! They also aren’t designed for multi-story homes.
Another reason to avoid these add-on attachments is that they are usually made from cheap materials. They won’t last long, and you’ll be caught in a cycle of replacing them.