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Whether Home or Outdoors — Follow the 3-Point Rule to Stay Safe

Published in Orthopedics, Trauma Services, Men's Health, For the Health of It Author: Robert Jacobs,MD

Ahead of the start of this year’s Minnesota deer hunting opener, please take the time to review a few safety tips. Any activity that involving firearms requires continued attention to safety to yourself and those nearby. However, hunting also involves some other risks — ones that may not be as obvious.

The leading cause of injuries to hunters is not related to firearms – it is falls from tree stands. In fact, is estimated that one-in-three hunters who use an elevated tree stand will have a fall that results in a serious injury.

Many of the same tips for staying safe in your tree stand are the same ones that will keep you safe when working on your ladder at home. Here are a few:

  • Always follow the 3-Point Rule. This means having three points of contact with the ladder — like one arm and two legs. The same applies if you are using screw in steps or other similar hand holds.
  • Never climb will full hands. Otherwise, you can’t follow the 3-point rule. When hunting, use a shoulder strap to keep your hands free or use a haul line to pull up your gear.
  • Always face the rungs of the ladder. This rule applies whether climbing up or down. Once on the platform, do not turn around until you have securely fastened your safety harness.
  • Watch your footing. Be aware that rain, snow, ice or mud can make your ladder or tree stand steps slippery. Wearing nonskid shoes or boots can help.
  • Know your limits. Alcohol, firearms and climbing do not mix.
  • Wear your harness. When hunting, your harness should be attached to the tree to prevent you from falling more than 12 inches. This seems ridiculous to some, but the majority of ladder injuries come from people missing the bottom 1-2 steps going down; not a fall from the top.
  • Safety first. Always inspect your harness for any sign of wear or damage before using it. Consider using a red headlamp when climbing into your stand before light.

Beyond these rules, make sure to follow the basic rules of hunting. Wear orange to stay visible. Keep your cell phone, whistle, walkie-talkie and/or flashlight within reach. Always treat your firearm as if it is loaded.

Happy hunting! Here’s hoping everyone headed outdoors stays safe and healthy over the next few weekends.