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A campaign is underway by tree stand manufacturers, retailers, media, natural resource agencies and deer hunters to reduce and eliminate tree stand accidents by raising awareness of this issue and providing education about safe tree stand hunting best practices.
Falls from tree stands are annually the number one cause of death and serious injury to deer hunters and involve all types of stands. Nearly all of these incidents are preventable by implementing three simple measures: First, inspect your equipment. Second, wear a full-body harness and third, stay connected from the time your feet leave the ground. It really is that simple.
Tree stand accidents can happen to deer hunters of all skill levels and result in serious injury or death. In Iowa last year, there were three tree stand incidents- two resulted in injury and one in death.
Since September is traditionally a busy time for deer hunters who are preparing for the upcoming hunting season; it has been chosen as Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month.
“Hunters are encouraged to take treestand safety seriously, every time you hunt from, hang, or move a tree stand,” said Megan Wisecup, hunter education administrator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
To help prevent injuries, the Iowa DNR is offering the following safety tips:
• Always wear a safety harness, also known as a fall arrest system (FAS), when you are in a tree stand, as well as when climbing into or out of a tree stand.
• A safety strap should be attached to the tree to prevent you from falling more than 12 inches.
• Always inspect the safety harness for signs of wear or damage before each use.
• Follow all manufactures’ instructions for use of a safety harness and stand.
• Follow the three point rule of tree stand safety. Always have three points of contact to the steps or ladder before moving. This could be two arms and one leg holding and stepping on the ladder or one arm and two legs in contact with the ladder before moving. Be cautious that rain, frost, ice, or snow can cause steps to become extremely slippery. Check the security of the step before placing your weight on it.
• Always hunt with a plan and if possible a buddy. Before you leave home, let others know your exact hunting location, when you plan to return and who is with you.
• Always carry emergency signal devices such as a cell phone, walkie-talkie, whistle, signal flare, personal locator device and flashlight on your person at all times and within reach even while you are suspended in your FAS. Watch for changing weather conditions. In the event of an accident, remain calm and seek help immediately.
• Always select the proper tree for use with your tree stand. Select a live straight tree that fits within the size limits recommended in your tree stand’s instructions. Do not climb or place a tree stand against a leaning tree.
• Never leave a tree stand installed for more than two weeks since damage could result from changing weather conditions and/or from other factors not obvious with a visual inspection.
• Always use a haul line to pull up your gear and unloaded firearm or bow to your tree stand once you have reached your desired hunting height. Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back. Prior to descending, lower your equipment on the opposite side of the tree.
• Always know your physical limitations. Don’t take chances. Do not climb when using drugs, alcohol or if you’re sick or un-rested. If you start thinking about how high you are, don’t go any higher.