Practice Ladder Safety

We need electricity to run our modern appliances and devices, so power lines are a common part of our lives. So common, in fact, that we tend to take them for granted or even forget they are suspended mere feet above us.

Extra care should be used when working with ladders around power lines. Here’s what you should know.

Three Types of Ladders

Unsafe: Metal ladders. Electricity easily travels through metal objects. If a metal ladder comes into contact with electricity, anyone touching it—including a family member trying to rescue you—can be killed.

Unsafe: Wooden ladders. It is a common mistaken belief that wood does not conduct electricity. Most wooden ladders contain moisture or even tree sap which can conduct deadly electricity.

Safe: Fiberglass ladders. Electricity does not flow through fiberglass, so only use fiberglass ladders when working around overhead wires or other electrical sources. Even so, don’t intentionally place a fiberglass ladder on a power line thinking that you’ll be safe. Your body is a great conductor of electricity and any accidental contact could kill you.

Ladder Safety Tips

  • Before grabbing a ladder, look around the area where you will be working and note where power lines are located
  • Carry and raise the ladder as far away as possible from power lines or the service wire which connects to your home
  • Lower a ladder before carrying or moving it
  • Never work on a windy day, as a gust of wind could shift a ladder into a power line
  • Place a ladder on solid, level ground, while making sure the distance to the nearest overhead power line is at least twice the length of the ladder
  • Never touch someone who is in contact with a power line. Call 9-1-1 immediately

Source: Electrical Safety Foundation International, www.esfi.org.