Most of us don’t give much thought to potential accidents that might occur while doing home maintenance tasks. While many people are aware that falling off a ladder at home is one of the top five reasons for emergency room visits, there are other dangers associated with cleaning the gutters. Whenever you plan to schedule a time this summer or fall to clean the gutters, be aware of these common dangers.
The Ladder isn’t Positioned Correctly
Place the ladder on an even surface. Avoid setting it up on areas covered in gravel or wet mud. Ensure a straight ladder or extension ladder is not too close or too far away from an exterior wall. To determine the correct distance in feet divide the height of the ladder by four. This reduces the possibility of the ladder becoming unstable while you are on it cleaning the gutters.
The Ladder hasn’t been Maintained
Especially if you only use a ladder every once in a while it’s important to keep it well-maintained. Before using it for your gutter cleaning task inspect it for rust spots, loose rungs, oil spills or residual grease, warping, and missing parts or mechanisms not working smoothly. A ladder that isn’t in optimal working condition can become unstable while you are standing on it, causing you to fall or the ladder to collapse.
Gutter Cleaning on Your Own
It might seem like the perfect time to clean the gutters when everyone else is out of the house doing something else. But having an assistant is a smart move. Even though you might not need a second person to actually clean the gutter system, a helper can hand you tools and other items you might need. Fewer trips up and down the ladder eliminate the potential for an accident to happen. If it’s not possible to set up the ladder on completely flat ground, an assistant can help stabilize the ladder by holding it while you’re working.
Too near Power Lines
There is the real danger of coming into contact with power lines when setting up the ladder or moving it from one gutter section to another. Often people are aware of how near they are to them but can forget all about the power lines as they concentrate on gutter cleaning.
Sure you get a little dizzy once in a while – it never lasts long. But vertigo isn’t something you want to have to deal with when you’re on a ladder trying to clean the gutters. If you experience dizziness or other related health issues such as limited mobility, breathing difficulties, or fear of heights, cleaning the gutters could be putting you in harm’s way.
Wearing the Wrong Clothing
If you wear the wrong clothing while gutter cleaning you might be setting yourself up for a fall. Wear a shirt with long sleeves but tuck it in. Make sure anything you wear is not too loose or can be snagged on ladder hardware or the sharp edges of the gutters. Shoes should have closed toes and rubber or non-slip soles. Protect your hands with a good pair of thick work gloves – they can make your hands feel clumsy but they will protect you from germs and possible infection if you come into contact with decomposing matter.