Most of us know that this is the time of year to clean gutters. What most of us may not know is how to clean gutters safely. Every year, there are far too many cases of personal injury (including death) and property damage from individuals unsafely gutter cleaning. In this blog, we will include several tips to stay safe while cleaning your gutters this season. We urge all of our readers to follow (and share) these safety tips to prevent damage to your property and a trip to the emergency room.
The easiest step (and probably most overlooked) is to let someone know you will be using a ladder to clean your gutters. Having someone keeping an eye on you can help reduce the risk of going unattended in the event of injury or prevent injury all together.
Use a safe and sturdy ladder with shelving that can hold a five-gallon bucket to collect gutter debris. Make sure to secure the bucket with a lanyard. It is generally recommended that a four-legged stepladder is used for a single-story home and an extension ladder is used for a two-story home. The ladder should be inspected for loose parts (notably screws and bolts), dents, and defects before climbing.
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Protect Your Hands
Wearing the proper work gloves can protect your hands from sharp debris, animal waste, dirt and other hazards. Rubber and cotton gloves are not recommended as they are too thin for the moisture and sharp debris that is commonly found in gutters. A thick suede glove is preferred due to its durability and flexibility. Leather gloves can be less maneuverable and can shrivel up after being wet.
Wearing protective goggles prevents most eye injuries. Mice, birds, frogs, wasps and bees are a few of the different animals and insects that can be living within the debris. You also want to mentally prepare yourself to see an animal and/or insect to avoid startling yourself and falling off a ladder or roof.
Watch Out for Power Lines
This should go without saying but do not attempt to clean gutters where power lines are exposed or may be loose. If the power line appears to be damaged, do not attempt to repair it; instead, call a licensed electrical contractor to fix it. Repair all hazardous electrical wiring before cleaning out your gutters. Certainly, do not attempt to clean gutters under wet conditions with any exposed or loosen electrical wires. Lastly, avoid using a metal ladder near power lines when gutter cleaning. A fiberglass ladder is a better safety solution in this situation.