As summer slips into fall, hunting seasons will soon begin. That makes this a good time to brush up on safety issues that are of particular concern to hunters -- but we aren't talking about gun safety.
Let's talk about tree stands, instead. After all, September is National Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month.
Falls from tree stands are the No. 1 cause of hunting-related accidents. The Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation recorded 1,109 falls from tree stands between 1987 and 2015 -- or about 40 falls per year. However, that number doesn't take into account any falls that weren't reported or any injuries where a tree stand wasn't specifically mentioned in the documentation.
What's the best way to stay safe while hunting and using a tree stand? Here are some tips:
- Make sure the stand you are about to use is in good condition. In particular, if you are borrowing someone else's stand and property to hunt, don't assume that the stand is okay until you've looked it over carefully.
- Make sure the tree is alive and big enough to support your weight.
- Wear a harness. A full-body harness should be on before you ascend the tree stand.
- Secure yourself carefully to the stand, then use a rope to haul up your tools and gear.
- Keep a relief strap or screw-in step with you in case you do fall, so that you can hang comfortably from your harness until you escape.
- Carry a whistle or some other means of alerting others if you do fall.
- Don't hunt without a partner -- or at least make sure people know where to look for you.
If you do fall from a tree stand that was badly constructed or unsound, you may have a cause of action against the property owner's insurance company. To find out if you have a case after being injured in a fall, talk to an experienced attorney.