Ladders can be dangerous, and this time of year many homeowners are dusting off their Vector illustration of man walking under ladder with a black catrickety models for those once-a-year jobs like cleaning the gutters, scraping moss from the roof and putting up festive decorations.  There are many safety checks to perform when using a ladder, which we have written extensively about, but still people manage to injure themselves needlessly.  Three people in Danville, Virginia, were electrocuted on 15th October, when a ladder they had been using slipped against the side of the house and fell against an overhead power line.  They had been painting the windows on the upper level of the house, when the incident happened.  It was around midday.  All three were on the ground at the time moving the ladder, but they did not collapse it before doing so.  When it slipped at the top and landed on the electricity cables, it sent a shock down the ladder that left two people without a pulse.  Luckily the emergency services arrived quickly and resuscitated both of them; no one saw the accident but neighbours reported hearing a loud boom at the time.

Accidents do happen even to people who are highly trained on the use of ladders.  A team of fire fighters in Trinidad and Tobago were shocked when their aerial ladder came into the magnetic field of overhead power cables, sending a 33,000 volt shock to six people.  The ladder was faulty and would not slide back into the storage position, so several people had to shake it to get it to come back down.  Unfortunately, this movement brought the top of the ladder within range of the electrical cables, leaving three people seriously injured; one with second degree burns.

Ladders can even be dangerous to those who are not using them, as a woman from Northumbria found out recently.  38-year-old, Joanne Cuthbertson was driving on the A1 with her father, when a set of ladders came loose from the back of the van in front of them and smashed through her windscreen.  Brian, her father, shouted “ladder” when he noticed it heading towards their windscreen, and Joanne braked as it shattered through the windscreen, nearly decapitating her.  Fortunately, the ladder then bounced on the bonnet, which stopped it from going any further into the vehicle.  The car needed a new windscreen, bonnet and dashboard. The father and daughter involved were not seriously injured, but it could have been a very different picture.  It is always worth leaving a big gap between your car and any vehicle in front that is carrying ladders or scaffolding, just in case.

We do like a feel-good story from time to time, so the tale of Nelson's freedom is a good one to end with.  Nelson is a cat, but has something in common with his namesake; he was temporarily imprisoned inside his owner's cottage, relying on student and owner Tariq Khoyratty to let him in and out, after their landlord said they could not install a cat flap in the Grade II listed cottage.  Khoyratty is studying for a PhD at Oxford and puts in some long hours at the books, which doesn't leave a lot of time to act as doorman to his cat.  Girlfriend Nikki Wheeler suggested building a ladder for Nelson, so he could use the top floor window as an exit and entrance, allowing him to come and go as he pleases, so Khoyratty set about constructing the seven metre ladder. Once in place it took a while for Nelson to get used to it, but he is now enjoying his freedom and can leave his owner in peace.