‘I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up’: Safety During a Fall
Even when following proper tree stand safety protocols, accidents can happen. If you fall from your tree stand, what should you do?
If you used a fall-arrest system and a suspension relief strap, you will have taken an important step to protect yourself from serious injury, but you still need to return to a safe position. Here’s what you should do after a fall:
- Gather your thoughts. Unless you have done absolutely everything correctly (like having no slack in the tree tether when seated) the odds are you are going to need help before you can get back in your stand. You should have your emergency signal device such as a cellphone, radio or personal locator beacon on your person to call for help. Even if you get back on your stand, you may need help getting back down. Call or signal for help right away.
- Get back into the stand if you are able to. Your adrenaline will be pumping, so don’t make any rash decisions. Find the nearest foot peg or ladder step and use it to climb back into the stand. If you can’t find a foot peg or step, try to pull yourself back into the stand.
- Act fast to relieve the pressure on your legs by stepping into your suspension relief strap. Being suspended for any length of time can cause suspension trauma, which can be fatal. Hanging motionless and suspended in your fall-arrest system can cause the leg straps to constrict blood flow. The pressure can make blood pool in the legs, limiting circulation and depriving organs of oxygen. Stand up in the strap to relieve the pressure caused by the leg straps on your full-body harness.
- If you do not have a suspension relief strap, move your legs continuously by pushing off from the tree, or raise your knees and pump your legs frequently to keep your blood flowing until help arrives.
Prevention is the best protection against accidents. Always hit the field with safety in mind. You can study up on safe hunting methods at Hunter Ed and Bowhunter Ed; these sites offer state-approved training accepted by hunter education programs.
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Remember, incidents are preventable. You can do your part.