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Wentzville Fire Protection District firefighter and fire truck at a fire training exercise

Wentzville FPD News & Fire Safety Tips

Best Practices for Ladder Safety


Whether ladders are used to access tree stands during hunting season or to string lights on the home, misuse leads to accidents.


Deer hunting season and the Thanksgiving holidays often overlap. Many individuals and families spend Black Friday gathering holiday decorations and preparing their homes for the winter holidays. The long weekend also might be an excuse to take older youth hunting. Late youth deer hunting season begins on Black Friday.


Hunting season and holiday decorating share one dangerous commonality: ladder usage! Hunters typically use ladders to access tree stands, and homeowners rely on ladders to reach areas of the home to string holiday lights and other decorations. Learn the best practices for ladder safety to minimize injury risk.


Table of Contents:

Ladder Safety When Hunting

Holiday Ladder Safety

When to Use a Safety Harness for Ladder Work

Extension Ladder Safety Rules


Key Takeaways:

Abiding by safety best practices for ladder use minimizes the risk of serious injury or fatal accidents. Use a safety harness, enlist a spotter, and keep three points of contact on the ladder at all times.


Hunting from a Tree Stand? Follow these Ladder Safety Tips

According to Pennsylvania State University, a magazine article published in the 1990s reported that 86 percent of hunters use a tree stand while hunting. Unfortunately, the stand accounts for numerous injuries related to falls.


Some stands require a ladder, while others integrate a safety harness for the hunter. When using a ladder with the stand, hunters must use three contact points on their ladder. These contact points could be two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand.


A Hunting Lease recommends that hunters always climb past their stand. This lets them crawl into the stand instead of grasping for it.


Hunters who use a harness to access the stand should always check the expiration date of the harness and always read the instruction manual. Hunters need to know how to adjust their harnesses to fully protect themselves.


Hunters must be extra cautious when navigating a tree stand during rainy or snowy conditions. Ladders and the stand become slippering, increasing the risk of falls and injury.


Holiday Ladder Safety

Many homeowners fully embrace the festive holiday spirit and adorn their homes with strings of colorful lights and other ornamentation. Depending on the home's design (i.e., two-story, ranch, etc.), access to roof overhangs for these lights often requires a ladder. Some older homes include three stories and unique features, and decorating these homes requires a taller extension ladder.


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) compiled data about falls sustained while decorating for the holiday season. The CDC conducted the study from 2000 to 2003 and attributed 17,465 injuries to seasonal decorating falls. Of these injuries, 42 percent (7,439 falls) were related to ladders.


Before grabbing a ladder to string lights or decorate a large Christmas tree, exercise caution and understand that additional safety equipment might be necessary to minimize fall risk and avoid a trip to the emergency room.


Choose the Best Ladder for the Job

Ladders are available in different heights. Consider the project and choose a ladder with ample access. Don't assume that a shorter ladder is conducive to completing the project; individuals might overcompensate for the lack of height by stretching their bodies. This can lead to falls and injury.


Enlist the Help of Others

Ask a friend or family member to assist with the project by spotting and holding the ladder. If a fall occurs, a spotter also can help manage the situation. Never tackle a ladder task solo.


Are You Wearing the Right Pair of Shoes?

Always wear shoes with a rubber sole that properly grips the rungs. This simple tip can help minimize falls and injury.


Never Use a Ladder in Bad Weather

Ditch the ladder work when it's raining or snowing. Working in wet conditions increases the risk of slipping and falling. Reschedule the decorating and wait for better weather.


When to Use a Safety Harness for Ladder Work

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) specifies safety rules and regulations businesses must follow to ensure their team stays safe. However, OSHA guidelines also can be helpful for individuals to review when they engage in any work that could lead to a serious injury.


For ladder work, OSHA mandates that safety equipment be used when fixed ladder heights exceed 24 feet. A fixed ladder cannot be moved; these ladders are found on various structures. Most individuals will use a portable ladder, and they might climb to less drastic heights.


However, using a proper safety harness minimizes the risk of injury. Err on safety and caution. No one wants to visit the ER on a holiday weekend!


Extension Ladder Safety Rules

Extension ladders reach vast heights. These ladders are portable, and many individuals use them to reach second stories in homes or to access fixtures in expansive vaulted ceilings. Follow these tips when using tall extension ladders:


● Abide by the three points of contact rule. Two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand.

● Always grab the rung for support

● Have another person hold the bottom of the ladder and provide 'spotting.'

● Use a safety harness for expansive heights

● Never use an extension ladder in wet, snowy, or icy conditions

● Choose shoes with proper grip soles

● Never reach beyond the ladder. Move the ladder to aid proper access.


Stay Safe This Hunting & Holiday Season

The Wentzville Fire Protection District wants to ensure all residents stay safe during the holiday and hunting season. Check our site next month for another safety tip.


About the Author


Wentzville Fire District is one of the largest fire districts in St. Charles County, covering 88 square miles. The fire district is committed to serving and protecting our community through the highest quality of fire protection, prevention, education, and community outreach.


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