We buckle into our safety harnesses, climb into our stands and never give it a second thought. But there are things to keep in mind when it comes to your safety gear. I bet you didn’t know that you should replace your safety harness or vest and LifeLines, etc. every so often, did you? Yep. So, that ten-year-old harness you’ve been using needs tossed out and replaced. The same goes for any other safety devices you may use. Read on for some great information, tips and advice on how to stay safe, even when you thought you were. Here’s a look at how long your safety harness will last.
Michael Wydner, National Sales Manager for Hunter Safety System, says that their safety harnesses have a five-year life span – from the date of purchase – not of manufacture, as long as a warranty card is filled out and submitted. Honestly, until he said this, I had no clue. I’m glad I do now. If you should happen to take a tumble from your perch and actually use the safety harness, don’t wear it again to see how many lives you have. Replace it immediately after using it in the event of a fall. “The harness absorbs about 1,000-1,500 pounds of force during a fall, even from a fall of only 16-18”,” notes Wydner.
When it comes to their LifeLines, the best practice is to hang them at the start of the hunting season and take them down at the end of the season. Then, replace them every two seasons. Do not leave them up year-round as the elements will certainly take their toll on the rope and stiffen and weaken it. Since there is no certification for the rope throughout the industry, there is no warranty on the rope, but do yourself a favor and practice what Wydner preaches.
As for their quick-connect straps, there really is no true life-span on them. “They are made out of seat-belt material, so how do you know when it goes bad?” adds Wydner. As with your lifelines, only leave these straps in the tree during the hunting season. As the tree grows, it will stretch and weaken the straps.
Keith Jones, retired New Product Manager at Summit Treestands backs up Wydner’s comments about not leaving straps, lines, etc. in the tree during the off-season. As long as you do this, he feels that you should be able to get 2-3 years out of your climbing system, maybe more depending on whether it is primarily in the sun versus the shade, and things like that.
The folks at Muddy say to replace your harness every 3-4 years, depending on use, condition, etc. Another good point from them is to continually inspect your harness throughout the season, looking for any tears, rips, etc. that could compromise its integrity. Obviously, if you see any signs of weakness, ditch the guideline and replace it immediately.
Their safe-lines and straps fall in line with the others. Put them up and take them down at the start and end of each season.
In closing, remember this, as Michael Wydner pointed out, 86% of falls don’t actually happen while you are perched in your stand scanning the terrain. Nope, they happen while either ascending or descending the tree. For this reason, it is definitely a good idea to use LifeLines, safety straps, etc., or at the least, maintain a three-point contact until you are strapped in.
This doesn’t mean you should skimp on a harness though. While fewer falls happen from the stand, the ones that do are brutal and often deadly.
Knowing all this, please consider your current treestand equipment. Do you have gear that needs replaced or updated? Is it time for a new harness? Sure, that lucky harness you’ve worn for the last decade or two may have sentimental value, but it’s time hang it up in the man cave and bring on its replacement. Keep it safe this season. Make sure you return home to your family at the end of the day. Update your safety gear so your name is not included in the next treestand accidents statistics.