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Extension ladder safety has been something of a running theme in This Old House—and that’s a good thing. Every year, according to one estimate, some 164,000 people land in the ER because they scrambled up without heeding the accident-avoidance rules.

1. No leaning. Keep your hips centered between the side rails. Leaning sideways is crazy-dangerous.

2. Avoid the shakes. Station your ladder on dry, level ground. If you are working at the roofline, extend it several feet above the point of contact. Secure the locks.

3. Angle carefully. Measure one fourth of the ladder’s length. That’s how far the ladder’s base should be from the wall.

4. Wear good shoes. They should have nonslip soles that are fairly rigid.

5. Stop short. No matter how tempting, don’t step on the top three rungs.