Winch Safety Guidelines

Spring is around the corner and many can’t wait to get back on the trails. We want you to have a good time, but also be safe! Inevitably, you or someone you come across may get stuck and need to be winched out or over an obstacle. Before heading out, it’s very important you know how to operate your winch and do so safely.

Know Your Winch

You have your winch installed, but have you read the instruction manual or had someone show you how to operate it? It’s always a good idea to read your instruction manual to know the parts of the winch and how they function before you hit the trails. 

You don’t want to be in a situation where the first time you need your winch, you left the instruction manual at home and don’t know how to operate it or safely use it. Before heading out, you should test your winch to make sure everything is working properly and inspect the wire cable or synthetic rope since it is exposed to many weather conditions.

Passenger Winch Knowledge

If you have a passenger, it’s also a good idea to make sure they are comfortable using a winch. More than likely you will need their help if you’re in a situation where a winch is needed. Like we discussed above, before leaving for your adventure, perform a winch walk-through with your passenger to ensure they know what to do if needed. 

Carry the Essential Accessories

Now that you feel comfortable using the winch, don’t forget to take the essential accessories needed to operate your winch safely. Make sure you have leather gloves, a tree saver strap, shackle(s), winch line damper, and winch remote. It’s best to put them in a location where you can easily grab them if the situation arises. 

Attaching Safely to Anchor Points

First, you need to determine the direction the vehicle that is stuck needs to go to get unstuck. From there, look for an anchor point that is stable and secure like another vehicle or living tree trunk. 

If using a tree, secure the tree saver straps as close to the bottom of the trunk as possible since this is the strongest part of the tree and the least likely place to cause damage. Place the looped ends of the strap facing the winch with the eyes of the strap in the round part of the shackle.

If using a hook, make sure the open part of the hook is facing up so if it breaks it will fall down instead of flying up and hitting you or another person. Also, lay a winch line damper or something similar on the line to direct the energy down in case of a break.

You need to make sure the anchor point is at least 2-3 vehicles away in length to give the stuck vehicle room to move forward. Make sure all bystanders are at least 150 feet away.

If the driver will be operating the remote control, make sure to wrap the cord around the mirror to prevent it from hitting the ground or the tires.

Keep some space between you and the winch so your hands do not get caught.

Warn’s Hand Signals

Since the driver may not be able to hear commands, it’s important to use hand signals. Below are common hand signals that Warn recommends:

Warn also has a more in-depth guide on winch safety that we highly recommend you download and read.

If you would like a visual demonstration of what we discussed above, here is a YouTube video we found:

Enjoy the trails, but do exercise caution if you need to use a winch. If you have questions or need a winch and/or accessories, visit our shop or give us a call. We are located at 5817 S. College Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80525. Our phone number is (970) 224-2288.

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