It seems like everything has a special day, week or month to celebrate or commemorate it. There’s a national pickle day, safe boating week – June is backyard barbeque month. There’s so many, no one can keep track of them. The truly important issues seem to get blended in with some of the less serious ones – no disrespect to pickles or backyard grillers intended.
For whitetail deer hunters, September is Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month, so proclaims the Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation (TSSA). There aren’t any banquets, conventions or galas planned to promote TSSA. Just the hope to increase the importance of understanding the dangers inherent in tree stands and the ways to minimize the hazards they present.
Hunting in general is a safe sport. More people are injured going bowling each year in the US than going hunting. Far more deaths occur to skiers, horseback riders, bicyclers and a long list of other recreational activities than occur to hunters.
Still, statistics show when looking at all the causes of serious injuries or deaths that do happen to people when hunting – far above gun accidents or knife injuries – number one is falls from tree stands. There are hundreds of laws affecting hunters. The one law that should never be overlooked by a tree stand hunter is the law of gravity.
September is the month most hunters head back to their deer woods to hang or erect stands in preparation for the upcoming hunting season. That’s why TSSA picked September to promote its mission to significantly reduce tree stand accidents and put a special emphasis, promotion and education to highlight the best practices tree stand users should know and follow. The TSSA goal is to reduce the number of tree stand incidents 50% by 2023. TSSA’s mission is to ensure every hunter comes home safe to their family and friends.
TSSA is excited to share they are seeing positive changes in the estimated numbers of falls that are occurring on a national level. Based on the latest data available (2017), there has been a 28% decrease in the number of estimated falls requiring an emergency department visit, while over the same period of time, there has been 7.1% increase in the number of licensed hunters nationwide. This significant drop in the estimated number of falls reflects the industry wide efforts of the Treestand Manufacturers Association, National Bowhunters Education Foundation, White Tails Unlimited, International Hunter Education Association, state DNR’s, along with TSSA’s, supporting partners (Realtree, Hunter Safety System, Summit Tree Stands, Hunter-ed.com, American Hunting Lease Association, Sole Scraper) and others focusing on tree stand safety.
Successes are great, but there’s plenty of room for continued improvement to ensure that everyone that uses a tree stand does it in a safe manner. Remember, it’s Tree Stand Safety Awareness month so when you head out to scout and position your stands this month (or any month) get the season started by putting safety first.
TSSA has designed an educational campaign called the “ABC’s of Tree Stand Safety” to serve as the building blocks to the awareness campaign:
A – Always inspect your equipment. Check and double check every bolt, strap, latch, turnbuckle and other parts and hardware to make sure they are present, working and in good condition.
B – Buckle on your full-body harness. It’s like wearing a seat belt when driving. It’s just as important if you are only driving a few blocks as when heading on a long trip.
C – Connect to the tree before your feet leave the ground. The most cumbersome part is wearing and using a harness system that protects the user when climbing into or down from a stand. But far more falls come from hunters going up or down the tree than when they are actually sitting or standing on their perch.
By performing these 3 simple steps, tree stand users can virtually eliminate their risk of falling to the ground as the majority of falls occur outside the stand. TSSA encourages all hunters to take tree stand safety seriously, every time you hunt from, hang, or remove a tree stand.
Hunters and members of the industry alike can help spread the message of TSSA Foundation. Visit the TSSA website at www.TreeStandSafetyAwareness.com or on social media at www.facebook.com/TreeStandSafetyAwareness or www.twitter.com@TreeStandSafety .