You never know when your vehicle gets stuck all of a sudden in a snowbank, ditch, or off-road location in the middle of nowhere! The most important element that is required right then to save you from such danger is a winch.
Rescuing a vehicle with the help of a winch is a high-risk activity that requires some serious precautions. In order to perform the winching task properly, you should definitely follow some safety tips.
So, this article talks about 10 winching safety tips you must follow while rescuing your vehicle from a trap.
10 Expert Tips for Winching Safely
#1. Learn How to Winch
First thing first, you need to learn the fundamentals of winching. If you don’t even know how it works and how exactly you should use it, then most probably you will make yourself fall for an accident or injury. You should read the user manual thoroughly to learn how to operate your model of winch.
You can watch some videos from the internet to get a visual idea of how it’s actually done. If anyone known knows the process, get to learn the basics from that person in real.
Remember, learning how to operate the winch properly is the very first safety tip you must follow.
#2. Choose the Right Equipment
It is always crucial to pick up the right tool for the required purpose. In terms of winching, the necessity of choosing the right winch is almost like choosing between life and death!
Make sure, you have taken the one that is rated for your task. Don’t compromise with the pulling power here, go for the higher ones if possible.
If your winch has a capacity to pull 1 ton highest, then don’t dare to use it for 2 or more ton objects. It will be a wise decision to pick up a winch that is capable of pulling almost 1.5 times your vehicle weight.
#3. Inspect Before Using
You may not need to use the winch for a long period of time, but then again accidents can happen all of a sudden.
So, check if your winch has all the parts available before every ride and whether they are in good condition or not. It’s really important to ensure that the winch has decent working conditions.
In fact, you should build up this habit of inspecting your winch before you go out with your vehicle every time. It’s necessary to inspect all the components of the winch to figure out if there is any visible damage. This may expose any pre-existing problem of your winch that needs to be resolved before winching operation.
Inspecting here usually includes motor functionality, lines, drum integrity, etc. If you happen to find issues like rust, loose bolts, mud deposits, unusual noises coming from the motor, then you should definitely pay attention and solve these problems before using the winch again.
#4. Use Proper Safety Gear
In order to perform safe winching, you require certain safety gear. Whether you are doing it for the first time or as an expert, there’s no alternative to using protective elements while winching.
As you have to use your hands in the operation with heavy force, you must wear thick hand gloves at that time to avoid injuries.
Otherwise, steel cable or synthetic rope of the winch can cause serious injuries to your hands. Wearing safety glasses is also necessary to save your eyes from unwanted accidents.
These are the basic safety precautionary items you shouldn’t forget to use while winching.
#5. Keep the Winching Area Clean
Before you start your winching job, you need to ensure that the area is clean. As it’s a bit risky task, no one should be there near the spot.
Make sure, you don’t step over the steel cable or synthetic rope. Try to maintain a safe distance where you have almost no chance of getting harmed if something happens unexpectedly.
When it comes to pulling the vehicle, you should put some soft weight or heavy jacket-like clothing in the middle of your winch line.
The reason behind this is, if somehow the cable gets snapped, it may release a great amount of energy instantly and that violent snap can cause serious injury as a result.
#6. Use Winching Accessories Wisely
For a safe winching session, you need to use rated winching accessories that are built for this very purpose. Whether it’s a snatch block, extension line, hook, hitch extension, tree strap, winch thimble, or any other equipment, make sure it’s made for winching. These accessories should be able to tolerate up to 5000 lbs. of weight or more.
However, some situations may arise where only winching accessories are not enough to rescue the vehicle from danger. The line or rope may fall short and you may require to wrap it around a nearby tree.
In that case, you have to act wisely for a safe operation. You can use thick lashes to hook it with the tree whereas snatch blocks can be used for making a dual-line pull.
Moreover, you can also use a line weight that helps to keep the line remain on the ground even if it gets snapped.
#7. Don’t Go for Long Bursts
If you winch for longer periods, this can easily cause overheating issues. And, overheating problems may decrease motor efficiency and cause accidental snap-off.
A winch usually burns a great amount of power while winching operation, this can make your vehicle’s battery die early! The longer it goes, the earlier it dies.
On the other hand, short burst firing doesn’t create any overheating issues, rather it prevents. This is almost obvious that the less you put pressure on the motor, the more it has chances to last longer unless any mechanical failure occurs.
However, in case of power failure, some winches come with an auto braking system. So, it is recommended not to push the limit of it.
The more you strain the machine, the more it has possibilities of getting broken. Just because you want a faster-winching operation, that is not worthy enough of taking such risk of probable lethal injury.
#8. Check the Cable Often
Checking the cable frequently ensures that you are aware of its condition. Before you start winching, there shouldn’t be any damage like frays or kinks.
If you discover any damage to the cable, make sure you fix it prior to winching again. Never use a damaged rope for further winching operation.
#9. Know Your Tools’ limitations
Like other safety precautions mentioned above, knowing the limits of your winching tools is also very important. Every winch comes with a limited pulling capability. Never go for any winching operation where the required weight crosses the reated pulling capacity of your winch.
If you do, then most probably the winch will fail the task and the cable can get broken as a result. So, save yourself from accidents by knowing the limits of your tools and maintaining them.
#10. Stay Focused
“Slow and steady wins the race”- winching is actually the game of tortoise, not of a hare.
Yes, I know you feel that adrenaline rush to save your buddy from the trap right then, but still, you need to focus and go slow with the winching process. Hurrying without proper concentration may gift you with broken anchor points, whiplash, and snapped rope.
It would be a smart approach to pull the line for 30 seconds each time when you are using an electric winch. In this way, the motor won’t get too hot and this will allow you to continue further sessions safely.
However, in terms of hydraulic winches, you can complete the whole pulling cycle without getting worried about the time period.
But, when it comes to electric models, this is recommended to winch for 30 seconds at a stretch and then take a break for 1 minute before getting into the action again.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I increase my winch capacity?
Answer: You can increase your winch capacity using snatch blocks.
How can I secure a load?
Answer: You can use ratchets and straps to secure your loads.
How can I increase the speed of my winch?
Answer: You can increase the speed of your winch by increasing the motor voltage.
How long does a winch last?
Answer: It depends based on the owner and the way it has been used over the years. If you maintain it well, it is more likely to last for almost 10 years.
Is synthetic winch rope stronger than cable?
Answer: Comparatively, synthetic ropes tend to provide better breaking strength than cable ones. Even if it breaks, it is repairable, which is quite impossible with a steel cable winch.
Winching is not a pleasant experience to have and we should try our best to avoid such situations where winching becomes a necessity. But, things happen and not all the time situations are in our control.
Whatever the case is if you happen to find yourself in a trap where your vehicle needs to be pulled out, then make sure you must follow these 10 winching safety tips.