Prevent Falling Injuries During Holiday Decorating - Part 1
Everyone knows that October is the beginning of the home decorating Holiday season. Sometimes starting as early as late September, 'Tis the season to climb up on your roof and decorate your house to be the spookiest, and then the most festive, on your block. And you know what that means. All those strung lights and fake rooftop Santas will have dozens of homeowners in your neighborhood climbing up on ladders and getting onto their own roofs for the first and possibly only time all year long.
Because we love home decorations and don't want to see anyone get hurt this year, today we're here to share a comprehensive collection of rooftop decoration safety tips. Your neighborhood deserves to be decorated with all the enthusiasm the residents care to muster, but there's no need for ladder falls, roof slips, or decorations that fall after they are placed. Are you decorating for Halloween or the Holiday season? Grab your ladder and check your safety protocols!
Place Your Ladder on Flat Solid Ground
First and foremost, make sure your ladder is placed somewhere stable. Ladders tipping and slipping are a major cause of holiday decoration-related injuries. Not every point around your roof will be safe. If you have a sidewalk by the roof edge, use that. Clear all debris and, if your ladder is on dirt or grass in the yard, consider putting down a sturdy board or flattening the area before you place the ladder. Make sure each foot is secure and the ladder is level before climbing.
Always Have a Friend Holding Your Ladder
Even if you have a sturdy A-frame ladder that practically holds itself, ladders are not secured with pitons and can tip. Always have a friend or family member (over the age of 10) holding the ladder and making sure it doesn't move underneath you while you climb or transition on and off the roof. And if your ladder-holder calls out about a safety concern, stop climbing and assess immediately.
Pass Tools and Decorations Up, Don't Climb With Them
The person holding your ladder is also there to make sure you have both hands available for climbing while you climb. Do not take decorations and supplies up with you unless you can do so with a safely balanced bag slung over your shoulders. Allow them to pass up strings of lights and decorations after you are safely at the top of your climb. Use the shelf on the side of your ladder and the rooftop edge to hold things so your hands are as free as possible while up there.
The Gutter is Not Supportive
Never grab the gutter for support or put your foot on it as a step. It will be tempting, but gutters are made of thin, flexible metal that will not support your weight. And you don't want to accidentally damage your roof (and yourself) by ripping the gutter off trying to use it as a support.
Transferring from Ladder to Roof and Back Again
Speaking of gutters, one of the trickiest moments in holiday decoration is climbing up onto the roof from the top of your ladder and back down again. Do not put your foot on the gutter or grip the gutter for more than light balance. Make sure your ladder holder is bracing the ladder. Extend one hand and knee out onto the roof and carefully shift your weight until your center of gravity is over the roof and not the ladder. Make sure you have a firm grip on the roof before releasing the ladder.
Coming down, reverse the action. Sit on the roof and extend one foot, then hand onto the ladder while it is braced by your spotter. When you have firm footing on the ladder, scoot backward and transfer your center of gravity onto the ladder and then add your second foot, keeping one hand on the roof the whole time to maintain balance.
[Continued in Part 2]