Ladders – Simple and effective, and could save your life one day.
One of mankind’s simplest but most useful inventions, the ladder- little more than a set of portable steps- is used throughout the world by everyone from DIY enthusiasts to fire fighters.
The ladder design has been improved over the years but never changes. The steps, or rungs, are suspended between two vertical bars called stiles. They can be wooden, metal, or pretty much anything durable. Aluminium is often used at is is a very lightweight metal. Rope ladders are less easy to climb but can be rolled up, making them perfect for military or camping applications. Some people with mild vertigo find climbing a ladder a scary experience and will not go high; whereas an experienced user can slide down a ladder without even touching a rung.
Ladders come in a fair variety, starting of course with the traditional fixed ladder. Extension ladders are very popular, basically several ladders attached together so that they can be unfixed and slide into one thick ladder for transport. Fire services famously employ these ladders to reach tall buildings, usually with hooks attached to the top to get a purchase on a window sill or roof top. Fire-fighters also affix these ladders to turntables allowing them to be swung around, and even mechanically extended. A slightly different version is the telescopic ladder that is several tubes that slide into each other. The step ladder is essentially two ladders hinged at the top, making an upside-down V shape, meaning that it supports itself without a surface to lean against. These are very useful for reaching high places and come in a hundred variants, but are most often used by warehouses or decorators.
Ladder safety has been improved since their invention, since they are very popular but many people fail to use them safely. A rigid ladder should be leaned at an angle of about fifteen degrees to the vertical. In other words, the distance from the foot of the ladder to the wall should be about one quarter of the height of the top of the ladder. When working with electrical wires ladders can be found that have fiberglass stiles which do not conduct electricity.
About the Author: John Gibb is the owner of ladder resources
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