Ladder Safety for the Holidays

Work faster and smarter—and feel 10 times safer while installing your Christmas lights or handling any exterior project at home with a ladder stabilizer!

Ladder stabilizers mount on extension ladders, and are essential for working around windows, eaves and high walls when painting, siding or doing any exterior repair work.

A ladder stabilizer (also called a stand-off) is an accessory with wide tubular arms and non-skid rubber pads that grips a house wall, increasing both a ladder’s stability and your “reach”working aloft. Stabilizers mount on all types of extension ladders, allowing them to straddle wide windows or “stand off”farther from a house to reach deep eaves, while providing a rock-steady workstation. We’ll show you how a stabilizer can extend your ladder’s capabilities and how to use it to work faster and more safely.

Use Your Stabilizer Safely

Apply this ironclad rule: When installing a stabilizer, position it so it will be between the house and ladder (Photo 5). Follow these other rules too:

  • Don’t use the type of stabilizers shown here on most folding (also called “articulated”) ladders. Use only the manufacturer’s recommended stabilizer for the model and duty rating of folding ladders.
  • If necessary, enlist a helper to raise the ladder (with stabilizer) into position, especially around power lines and trees.
  • Don’t stand on the stabilizer.
  • Stabilizers aren’t load-rated to carry the additional weight of ladder jacks and walk planks hung from the ladders. Also, don’t use the stabilizer arms to support planks.
  • Working aloft using old joint compound buckets to carry tools and materials is wonderfully efficient. For maximum safety, limit the weight of the filled bucket so the total load (including your weight) doesn’t exceed the capacity of either the ladder or the stabilizer. Tie a rope to the bucket, climb the ladder, haul the bucket up and tie it to the ladder rails, not the arms of the stabilizer. Stabilizers can give you an increased sense of security aloft, but know your limits! Avoid a mistake caused by overconfidence—like overreaching to get an additional 6 in. closer to a spot—that could lead to tragedy.