Look Up and Live!
You've heard it before: be careful when using any ladder, especially a metal ladder, around power lines. But it pays to be reminded. If you can, replace metal ladders with wood or fiberglass if you're going to use it anywhere near a power line or electricity source. If you must use a metal ladder, here are a few additional cautions to keep in mind:
- Metal ladders shift position. Wind, uneven ground or reaching to the side while on the ladder can cause the ladder - and even the person on it - to contact an overhead wire.
- Never use metal ladders when handling an improperly grounded power tool or contacting an electrical source, such as a light socket.
- Metal stepladders and extension ladders meeting Underwriters Laboratories and American National Standards Institute voluntary standards have labels warning about this hazard. The labels typically state with words and graphic: "Danger!
- Metal conducts electricity! Keep ladder away from power lines and live electrical wires."
- Carefully check the location of all overhead wires before using a ladder, especially where the lines connect to the house. Any power line (including the line running from the street to your house) can permit electricity to flow into a piece of metal or other object, such as a tree branch, that touches it.
- Power lines and phone lines often appear similar. Assume that all overhead wires carry electricity. Some overhead lines are coated to extend the life of the line. The coating is not intended to protect against electrocution.
- Lower the ladder when carrying or moving it, to avoid touching an overhead wire. Since long ladders can be unwieldy, have someone help carry and set up the ladder.
- Never place a ladder where it could slide into an overhead line. Make sure the distance to the nearest overhead line is at least twice the length of the ladder.
- Place the ladder's feet on solid, level ground before climbing it. When the ground is not level or is soft, put a flat piece of wood under one or both feet of the ladder to provide a solid, level base. If possible, tie off the ladder to prevent it from moving.
- If the ladder should start to fall into an overhead line, let it go. Never try to move it. Do not leave the ladder unattended. Have someone call your cooperative and report the problem, and make sure the electricity to the line is off before you touch the ladder.
- If someone is holding the ladder when it contacts the overhead line, never try to pull him or her away with your hands.
For more information visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission online at www.cpsc.gov.