Ladder Safety Tips for Homeowners

While most professionals who use a ladder in their job are trained on ladder safety, few homeowners take the time to educate themselves on ladder safety before climbing up on one. To make sure you stay safe, here are some basic ladder safety guidelines from the American Ladder Institute:

  • Never use a ladder that isn’t tall enough to reach the area you’re working on. The ladder should actually extend one foot beyond the work area on a wall surface or two feet above an eave.
  • Never stand on the highest two rungs or steps and never step on a rung higher than its horizontal lean point, such as above a gutter.
  • Using an old or unstable ladder is definitely a risky idea.
  • Wear clean, slip-resistant shoes.
  • Be sure to pay attention to all warnings and safety instructions printed on the labels.
  • Avoid setting up or working from a ladder during inclement weather.
  • Always climb slowly and methodically, moving one limb at a time.
  • Do not carry tools or materials up or down a ladder with your hands. Instead, carry them on a tool belt, or move them with rope or a basket.
  • Never allow more than one person on any ladder at one time.
  • Do not reach out too far from the ladder in any direction. If you need to reach away from the ladder to work, climb down and move the ladder to a new position.
  • Never leave a ladder set up around small children – there is always the temptation for small children to climb ladders and this can very quickly lead to very serious injuries.

Proper usage can vary depending on the type of ladder you’re using.

Extension Ladder

The most important principle of an extension ladder is to create a safe angle between the ladder and the wall it’s leaning against. When a ladder is too vertical, it has a higher risk of falling backward; when it’s too horizontal, there’s a higher risk of its feet slipping out from beneath. A good way to ensure a proper ladder angle is to use the “4 to 1” rule. For every four feet of height you have to climb, the ladder’s feet should be moved one foot away from the wall.


A stepladder is designed to be used in the open position. Never lean it against a wall to use it as a straight ladder and never climb onto the top two rungs of a stepladder. If you need to climb higher, get a longer ladder. Always face the ladder when climbing up or down, and keep both hands on the side rails while climbing.

Three-Points-of-Contact Rule

One important rule of ladder safety is to always maintain three points of bodily contact with a surface when climbing. In other words, you need to keep either both hands and one foot or both feet and one hand in contact with the surface at all times. When three points of contact are maintained, your center of gravity is more controlled, and you are a lot less likely to lose your balance.

The Best Way to Avoid Injury

Obviously, the number one way to avoid a ladder-related injury is to stay off ladders altogether. That means leaving gutter cleaning, roof maintenance, painting and other tasks that require ladders to the professionals.

If you have any ladder or roofing questions, please contact the specialists at Storm Guard Roofing & Construction of Chantilly. We offer a FREE, no-obligation roof inspection that addresses issues needing immediate attention and the overall condition of your roof. Contact us today at 703-421-7340 or email us at