An extension ladder is a special kind of ladder whose length can be extended by attaching individual sections. Each section of the extension ladder is locked in place with the use of metal locking pins that are connected to, and extend from, the side rails of the ladder. By turning each pin, you can lengthen or shorten your height as needed – much like the way that each section of a telescoping pole functions.

The best type of ladder to have on hand at your home is an extension ladder. An extension ladder is far more versatile than other types, and can help you accomplish many tasks around the house or workplace without too much trouble. It’s important to learn how to properly use an extension ladder, however. Follow these simple steps to extend and use your ladder safely for whatever job comes your way.

First of all, be sure that the area in which you are working is free of debris or any other items that might cause you to lose your footing. Next, place the ladder below the point where you need to start working, either leaning it against a wall or holding it firmly with your hands if you are the only one available to hold it steady. Make sure that the base of the ladder is well-sunk into the ground, either by using flat boards to block up the legs, or by hammering in stakes alongside each leg for added stability.

Second, be sure that there is no danger of anything falling on you or that the ladder itself will topple over if it must be stood upright. If these conditions cannot be met, move away from the ladder and find some other way to get your work done.

Thirdly, check the area of your home in which you are working for any kind of electrical wires or outlets that may be present. If you are working near one, move to another area or choose a different ladder.

Fourthly, figure out how high you need your ladder to reach by measuring the distance from the ground to your task; then add two rungs (the space between each of the steps) for safety. Continue climbing until you reach the requisite height.

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Fifth, once you are at your desired position, be sure that the legs of the ladder are firmly balanced. For stability, avoid leaning the ladder against a wall; instead, hold it up against your body and climb down one step – this will cause the legs to automatically lock into place. Finally, take out any tools that you will need to complete your job and get to work.

Conventional wisdom suggests that it’s not a good idea to put any weight on the last few rungs of a ladder, but if you must use them, be sure that they are strong enough for whatever task needs doing. For example, an attic ladder may look sturdy enough for you to lean your weight on as you work, but it might not be as strong as a sturdy stepladder. If you have any doubts about the strength of any part of your ladder, go ahead and take those last few steps down to the ground before carrying out your task.

Tuck in those shirt tails and tuck up those pants legs. You don’t want to catch your clothes on a rung and either rip them or take a nasty fall. Also, be sure that the ladder is not in danger of falling over when you lean it up against something to complete your task; again, if there is any question about its ability to support you, go ahead and take those last few steps down to the ground before carrying out your task.

Keep in mind that, while some jobs may be accomplished safely by “shimming” up a ladder (using small pieces of wood or other non-conductive materials between you and the wall), climbing walls, roofs, etc., is not something that should ever be done without someone there to supervise you or your work, and to help if something goes wrong.

Finally, once you have finished using your ladder for whatever job it was required to do, move it away from the area in which you were working, place it back on the ground with its legs fully extended and locked into position – then climb down carefully and never stand on top of the last few rungs.