It is no surprise that some roofing materials are safer than others. Shingles are almost always the safest roofing material for winter. On the other hand, membrane materials like PVC and TPO are very slippery, especially when covered by snow. Slipping on one of these materials is a surefire way to slide right off the roof. Flat roofs are no better. Many people assume that flat roofs are the safer option during the winter. Unfortunately, they can be just as treacherous as sloped roofs. Zero friction is the biggest threat to roofing contractors. Following the winter roofing safety tips below will keep you safe from injury and possibly death.

How to climb on a roof safely during winter

First and foremost, following every single safety guideline is still not enough to guarantee safety from injury or death. Roofs are very dangerous, especially in slick, cold, and wet conditions. Therefore, use your best judgement before deciding to venture onto your roof.

Extension Ladders

Use an extension ladder to access your roof. Extension ladders are safer than step ladders because most rungs extend at least 3′ beyond the roof’s gutter line. Secure the ladder by attaching a rope to the gutter. Place the ladder on a spot where there is no snow or ice to prevent it from sliding underneath you. The base should be placed a distance equal to 1/4 the working length of the ladder. Check the rungs for ice so that you do not fall before you reach the roof.

Use the “3-point rule”

Clean and dry your boots before you begin climbing the ladder. When you climb, use the 3-point rule to safely ascend. Keep 3 points of contact with the ladder at all times. Have either both feet and one hand on the ladder, or both hands and one foot as you climb.

Check for snow

When you have reached the roof, stop and check for snow before climbing off the ladder. Stop at a level comfortable enough for you to reach out and clear away snow before you step onto the roof. Use a plastic bladed shovel to remove ice and snow. A standard shovel can crack or break the roof membrane, causing you more trouble than what you began with. Keep your body centered and inside the ladder rails as you clear away the snow. Leaning too far in one direction will cause you or the ladder to fall, leading to serious injury. Never stop on a rung that is higher than the gutter line because this could cause the ladder to slide out from under you.

Additional precautions

Use additional materials to clear away hazardous ice and snow. Apply salt to the area to breakdown stubborn ice and use a towel to soak up excess snow. Be sure to thoroughly dry the area before you step onto the roof and never step in areas where deep snow exists. Remember to watch for skylights, gas pipes, and other materials in the roof that you might trip over. Consider hanging Christmas lights and other fixtures from your ladder as well.

Roofs are a hazardous place to be in the middle of a cold, snowy winter. Use these winter roofing safety tips if you must venture up on your roof. If there is an issue that needs fixing, consider calling professional roofers, such as those at Central Roofing Company™.

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