How To Climb Safely

If you're planning to hang Halloween decorations or clean leaves out of gutters this fall, chances are you'll be using a ladder. While many people consider ladders to be basic working tools, they can be dangerous if used improperly, reports CBS News Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay.

Last year, more than half a million people were hospitalized or had to see a doctor after a fall off a ladder. About 300 people a year die from injuries related to ladders.

To help prevent ladder injuries, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons launched a nationwide education campaign Wednesday called "Climb It Safe."

Here are a few of the recommendations by the Academy:

  • If you are using a ladder outside, use the "four-to-one rule." The bottom of the ladder should be one foot away from the wall for every four feet that the ladder rises.

    For example, if you have a ladder that touches the wall sixteen feet above the ground, the bottom of the ladder should be four feet from the wall. (See illustration above.)

  • If you're using a single or extension ladder, never stand above the third rung from the top of the ladder. Never climb above the point where the ladder touches the wall or vertical support.
  • Do not try to "bounce" the ladder to a new location while standing on it or try to "shimmy" it into place. Climb down and reposition the ladder.
  • When using a stepladder, never stand above the second step from the top. Also, don't stand on the paint shelf, spreader, or back section.
  • Don't wear leather-soled shoes on a ladder. The soles are slippery, and you risk falling off the rungs. And if you're wearing shoes with laces, make sure they're tied.

Reported by Dr. Emily Senay