For many exterior chores, you need an extension ladder. Here's a way to keep it steady. Support the ladder base with a 2x4 cleat, as illustrated. Cut the cleat about 12 inches longer than the width of the ladder. Then drive two 16-inch-long 2x4 stakes a foot into into the ground. Screw the cleat to the stakes and stand the ladder against it.

Keep these safety rules in mind:
1. Stand the ladder only on dry, level ground, never on top of mud, ice, or snow.
2. The distance from the house to the base of the ladder should equal one-fourth the height of the ladder.
3. When working on a ladder, don't overreach. Keep your hips within the vertical rails.
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