There is an exhaustive amount of information on the internet about using winches safely for vehicle recovery in an off road situation. This is not without good reason because winching is a very hazardous activity carrying a high risk of injury. For those who regularly take their Land Rover off the beaten track, getting out of a challenging situation through teamwork is part of the fun. Making sure everyone and their vehicles return home safely can be achieved by following safe practice and procedures. This includes:
Think Safety First at All Times When Using Winches
- Training and Practice
Before using winches in a real life recovery situation, always read the manual and get to understand how your particular winch works. Practice with fellow Land Rover enthusiasts in a controlled environment so that you are prepared when “out in the field”. Inexperience and impatience lead to accidents. Prepare your winching equipment and cables before use and always make sure your winch is properly maintained.
- Plan Ahead
When you need to extract your vehicle or another Land Rover, stop! Plan the best way to carry out the job taking into consideration the situation and think safety first. Work out everything in stages and don’t rush.
Clear communication between the driver and the spotter is key to safety. Using radios is an option but establishing a series of visual prompts and hand signals is equally effective. Clear communication and understanding reduces risks.
- Use Correct Accessories
Never cut corners and always use the correct couplings and accessories properly. Failing to attach a winching line correctly to the load will result in damage to the winch, the vehicle, yourself or a bystander. Don’t wrap a rope directly around a tree or a rock – use a tree saver. The correct attachments and accessories improve safety and reduce the risk of damage and injury.
- Wear Gloves
Whether your line is steel or synthetic, always wear gloves to protect your hands. Steel cables can fray and synthetic cables may have picked up sharp stones. You risk losing fingers and getting nasty cuts if you don’t wear gloves.
- Don’t Overload and Use as Designed
Winches are designed to haul a specific weight so know your limitations before use. Don’t exceed this or you risk winch failure and damage. Cables can snap and when under tension they build up a lot of energy. This powerful kinetic energy is released, and you don’t want to be standing in the way! Having winch weights or something to dampen the cable will help to absorb this energy and prevent it from flying unpredictably.
Never side load a D ring or winch at an acute angle. Only use the winch in intermittent durations. This is how they are designed and risk overheating if pulling continuously.
- Stand Clear
Before the winch is attached and the line is taught everyone must stand clear. Don’t be tempted to risk your life (that’s not an exaggeration) or limbs for a better view or a cool video for social media. Keep outside the area of risk for any flying debris if the equipment breaks and if you can, take cover behind rocks or trees.
Never straddle a winch line or get between a winch and its anchor point.
As a disclaimer, this isn’t a complete and comprehensive guide to safe winching, see it is a selection of common sense points. When off road driving you will encounter any number of scenarios requiring winches and we urge that all Land Rover fans follow their equipment’s instructions, get adequate training and don’t take any unnecessary risks – always Think Safety First.
A Big Selection of Winches and Winching Accessories
John Craddock Ltd stocks a big selection of winches and accessories so you can be properly equipped for vehicle recovery. Should you wish to discuss the features and capabilities of any of these products, please contact us and a member of our knowledgeable team will be happy to assist you.