How to buy a ladder; problems with ladders

Caution: A ladder touching a power line can deliver a lethal shock; avoid using a metal or wet wood one close to a power line. When erecting or moving a ladder, look up to make sure a power line is not nearby. Use double-insulated, grounded power tools while working on a ladder.

If a ladder’s rungs or steps aren’t skid resistant, buy adhesive-backed antislip strips from a hardware store and apply them. Make sure the ladder’s feet have rubber or plastic nonslip shoes.

Accessories make ladder use safer. Work trays hold paint and tools; wall grips on ladder tops prevent slipping; and ladder-leg extensions can compensate for uneven ground.

Before using a ladder, check it for cracks, splits, or bent areas. Position a ladder so that the distance between its base and the wall is at least onequarter of the ladder’s length up to its point of support. Don’t lean a ladder against a window or a door.

Extension ladder

Open an extension ladder so that there’s at least 3 feet of overlap; be sure to engage the rung locks. When climbing up or down, face the ladder and hold on with at least one hand. If you are working with both hands, hook one of your legs securely over a rung.

Overreaching invites a fall; move the ladder instead. Avoid the top three rungs of a ladder or the top step of a stepladder.