November 17, 2005
Hunters urged to practice tree stand safety
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—As hunters head back to the woods for another deer season, Dr. David Collipp cautions outdoorsman to be extra careful using tree stands.
Dr. Collipp, a physical medicine physician at Methodist Rehabilitation Center, said tree stand accidents are probably the third most common cause of spinal cord injuries in Mississippi. “Such falls also are associated with brain injuries and any number of fractures,” he said.
They also can be especially debilitating because medical assistance often is delayed. Hunters frequently aren’t found until hours after being injured or they’re in remote areas where rescue vehicles can’t reach them.
According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, about half of all deer hunting injuries involve tree stands. During the 2001-2003 hunting seasons, there were 19 tree stand incidents, two involving fatalities.
When it comes to preventing tree stand incidents, most safety experts say hunters need to avoid “user errors.” “Some injuries are related to alcohol consumption and many are related to improperly erected or constructed tree stands,” Dr. Collipp said.
Safety experts recommend that hunters frequently check homemade stands for signs of deterioration and that they pay particular attention to the safety and instructional materials that come with commercial tree stands.
Here are some more tips on tree stand safety from “The User’s Guide to The Tree Stand (Its History and Safe Use)” by L.J. Smith.
- Always wear a fall-restraint device. Wear it from the time you leave the ground until you return to the ground.
- Read and follow manufacturer’s instructions and warnings.
- Practice with your tree stand at a low level, under 5 feet, until you are sure you know how to use the stand.
- Check your stand before and after each use. Correct problems before using stand again.
- Take your time when climbing and watch every step you make.
- Never climb with anything in your hands. Use a pull rope to bring up equipment after you’re secure in your stand.
- Watch the weather. Some tree stands will slip on wet trees. Most stands are made of metal and are not safe during lightening storms.
- Do not sleep in tree stands or drink alcohol or take drugs during tree stand use.
- Tell someone exactly where you will be hunting and what time you plan to return. Agree that they will search for you if you do not return within an hour of that time.
- Take a whistle, flashlight, cell phone or two-way radio so you can signal rescuers with your location.