Having years of experience in residential and commercial roofing, I’ve heard countless stories of people getting hurt while on the job. The odd time, I’ll even hear stories from people who have no roofing experience at all, grabbing a ladder, getting on their roof and hurting themselves. Just 2 months ago I received a call from a cousin of mine whose father had fallen off the roof while trying to clean the rain gutters. He got away with just a few minor bumps and bruises, but others have not been so lucky.

I rarely recommend anyone without the proper safety equipment or roofing experience grab the ladder and get up there, but if you have to, I suggest you keep these 5 safety tips in mind as a precaution.

1. If it’s a big job, be sure to have the proper safety equipment.

– Many of your local hardware stores or lumber yards rent roofing equipment such as roofing harnesses and roofing boots. These boots have grips on the bottom of them, which stick to shingles and/or tar paper, allowing you to walk a bit more safely along your roof.

2. Secure your ladder, check twice – climb once.

– Everyone is familiar with the term “measure twice – cut once”, well, I like to use the same logic when it comes to setting up a ladder. Be sure to check and secure it twice every time you climb it. Your ladder should be on a level, solid surface and if possible, it should be supported with something behind the legs so it doesn’t slip backwards.

3. Afraid of heights? Steer clear of the rooftop.

– It amazes me how people who are acrophobic (or afraid of heights), think it’s a good idea to climb up on their roof and start working. If you’re afraid of heights, please stay away from your room. Even if your roof is only 12ft high, it will probably feel like double that for someone who is afraid of heights. If you’re climbing up there, you need to be confident and secure, not scared and insecure.

4. Never jump off the roof into a snow or leaf pile.

– I know what you’re thinking, “I’m an adult, why would I ever do something silly like that?” Well it happens. Especially the jumping into a snow pile. Usually after a large snowfall, people will decide to get up on their roof and clear off the snow. When they see the pile they’ve made below, they decide to jump into it. Not a good idea. This is an easy way to sprain or break an ankle, knee or even injure a shoulder or arm.

5. Phone a friend.

– Last but not least, never ever work alone. Even if you’re only going to be up on the roof for 2 minutes, you should always have someone around. Whether they are there to hold the ladder in place, or call for help if something serious happens, you should always have someone with you when working on the roof.