Tree stands fall into three basic types: hang-on style, climbers, and ladder-style. Each has its own safety requirements.
On screen: GROUND TRAINING
Practice installing and adjusting all tree stands on a tree at ground level with an able-bodied adult standing by for assistance. Every stand is different, and this ground-level practice will help you become familiar with installing and using your system. After attaching the stand to the tree and before you place your foot on the platform, attach your tree belt to the tree above the seat. Then attach your full-body harness tether to the tree belt, and step onto the stand platform. Now, adjust and raise the tree belt up to a level above your eyes when standing.
On screen: No slack in tether when in a seated position.
Be sure the tree belt is tight and secure. This is how you must attach the tether to the tree belt when actually hunting. Adjust so there is no slack in the tether when you’re in a seated position.
On screen: Practice the following procedure during ground-level training.
Become familiar with standing on the platform. Practice sitting and turning, sitting and then standing up.
On screen: Practice with able-bodied adult standing by.
Check the tether for slack when sitting. Remember, there should be no slack in the tether when seated. The tether should be tight and should be away from the neck. Listen carefully to this next statement. The failure to properly attach the full-body harness to the tree belt by allowing excess slack in the tether, or the failure to properly and tightly secure the tree belt to the tree, could result in the inability to re-board the platform, leaving you suspended from the tree in your full-body harness.
On screen: Seek Suspension Relief
Following the proper procedure after a tethered fall may save your life. The first thing to remember is, don’t panic. Signal for help, and then execute your suspension relief plan.
The situation of hanging suspended and motionless from a full-body harness may lead to unconsciousness in as little as five minutes, followed eventually by death. The medical term describing this situation is suspension trauma. If you are unable to reboard the tree stand while you’re awaiting rescue, techniques exist to help extend consciousness. These techniques include procedures to encourage the pooled blood in your legs to return to your heart. The conscious survival time may be extended if the subject keeps moving his legs constantly and attempts to get legs into a horizontal position or as high as possible, to allow blood flow to return to his heart. Consciousness may be extended by pushing down vigorously with the legs to force blood out of the legs. You can do this by putting your feet against the tree and flexing your legs occasionally. Another method of gaining suspension relief if you are unable to gain access to the stand platform is to create a step to stand on with a strap or a rope. This procedure requires that you attach a strap or a rope at either side of the waist of your full-body harness. These attachment points can be the lineman’s belt connectors on the waist of your harness or, in some cases, a lineman’s belt may work. First attach one side of the strap to one hip, and let it hang down to just below knee level. Attach the other end of the rope at the other hip. Step onto the loop, and stand up. This procedure can reduce the pressure caused by the leg straps and reduce your exposure to suspension trauma.
On screen: Lineman’s belt or strap must be available on your person.
Once standing on the strap, you may choose to loosen the leg straps slightly to relieve even more pressure, but do not disconnect the leg straps.