The need for this basic piece of equipment has been known in many professions which require its workers to be at unsafe heights for some time now. That makes it hard to believe that even to this day, there are hunters who hit the trees every season without having one on. As we continue to get out there and hunt our favorite quarry; we do everything right; teach our children to do it right, that is the way we can ensure everyone can enjoy this sport.
The following information can be broken down into one simple sentence; any hunter setting up or using a tree stand should be wearing a tree stand safety harness. These are sometimes referred to as Fall Arrest Systems or FAS. There are many different styles of tree stand harnesses out there. The Tree Stand Manufacturers Association (TMA), who sets the standards for fall arrest systems no longer recommends the single strap style safety harness due to numerous hunter injuries. They do recommend an tree stand safety harness with a full body harness or vest harness. My personal preference is a vest style harness. I appreciate the ease to don the item, the complete upper body support and the vest style keeps out of my way while in a tree stand in case of a fall.
Regardless which style of full body harness FAS you use, you should always read the manufacturers guidelines regarding the use of their product. Each manufacturers product is slightly different, so for your safety make sure that you are completely familiar with the style you have chosen to use. Here are some basics to consider:
1. A fall arrest system should include a full body harness, lineman belt and a tree tethering system.
2. Make sure that your safety harness fits you properly.
3. Always use your FAS from the moment you leave the ground and the entire time you are in your stand.
4. When fastening the tree tether to the tree make sure that you do so per the manufacturers instructions.
5. Replace your FAS if it shows signs of wear.
6. The Tree Stand Manufacturers Association (TMA) recommends replacing your FAS every 5 years.
The cost of a fall arrest system ranges between $70- $200. This is a small investment for an essential piece of equipment. Becoming familiar with your fall arrest system and following these simple guidelines on your next hunting trip will ensure that you can enjoy the hunting tradition for many years to come. Further, if you hunt with your children, it is imperative to show them by example that you are a responsible hunter and teach them to be responsible hunters as well.