Safety Tips for Climbing Trees
Anyone who grew up in small towns or in the suburbs has probably experienced climbing trees as a pastime. As a kid, we all enjoy climbing trees, especially during the summer. As kids who believed we were Tarzan, we’ve all had our share of falls and broken bones.
But a kid’s naiveté aside, there is an inherent danger in climbing trees without supervision or safety precautions. As children, we all get a kick at climbing trees without even considering the potential dangers that come with it. And as adults, it is our responsibility to know the risks and apply proper precautions whenever we are faced with a situation where we have to climb a tree.
So, whether you’re a tree climbing enthusiast or just someone who’s just trying to remove from tree something that’s stuck there, here are a few safety tips you need to consider before you start looking at that tree like Sir Edmund Hillary stared at Mount Everest:
Safety Tips to Consider before You Start Climbing That Tree
Always do a visual inspection of the tree before climbing it.
Don’t think for a second that just because you have had experience climbing trees, you can just safely navigate any tree on the fly without checking it first. Even tree professionals who climb trees for a living know the importance of tree inspection before doing any actual climbing.
Check the tree for broken limbs, signs of infestation, weaknesses, and diseases. If a tree is suffering from any type of disease, or if insects have nested on it or in it, then it’s probably unsafe and unstable for climbing.
Never climb a tree in inclement weather.
Climbing trees during bad weather conditions is especially dangerous, because of the effects weather has on trees. If there’s rain or snow, trees can become slippery and unsafe, greatly increasing the chances of accidental falls.
And if you’re dealing with a thunderstorm, well that’s a whole other level of danger. Trees often get hit by lightning strikes. The last thing you want is to be up on a tree in the middle of a thunderstorm. Wind speeds upwards of 15 miles per hour will likely cause the tree to sway. Unless you’re that friendly neighborhood superhero, don’t be up on a tree when strong winds are blowing.
Don’t climb trees that are located near power lines.
Live power lines are very dangerous and shouldn’t be trifled with. Before you climb a tree, make sure that there are no power lines nearby. If your rope, any equipment, or any part of your body touches a live power line, electrocution is a very real possibility. If the electricity won’t end you, the fall might.
Use safety equipment if you have to climb a tree.
If you absolutely must climb a tree to retrieve whatever it is that’s stuck in there, at least wear appropriate safety gear. Helmet, leather lineman’s gloves, safety goggles, climbing rope—all of these are important safety gear that you should always remember to wear when climbing trees for whatever reason.
Stay away from nesting animals or nests that you might encounter.
This should always be included in your initial inspection of the tree before you start climbing. If you see visible nests, especially of insects like bees or wasps, or even birds’ nests or some other critters’, you should call it a day and just call the professionals.
Bees, wasps, possums, squirrels, different kinds of birds—all of these creatures could be living up in your tree, so be very careful when you climb. Oftentimes, it’s not the creature itself that will harm you; it’s the subsequent fall after you get startled. And if you are allergic to bee stings, you should definitely just leave the climbing to the professionals.
Don’t wear leg spikes when climbing a tree.
Leg spikes can make climbing easier, but if you care for your tree, you should avoid it. Leg spikes are not ideal because they cause tree wounds. Those wounds make the tree vulnerable to attacks from bacteria, viruses, fungus, and insects. So if you care at all for the health and well being of your tree, please don’t stab it repeatedly by using leg spikes.
Leave the climbing to professionals as much as possible.
If you’re in no shape to climb, if you have no experience or do not have the right equipment to safely navigate the tree, you should just contact a professional. Yes, it might cost you a few bucks, but it’s nowhere near the cost of an unfortunate accident that could’ve been avoided in the first place.