May 31st 2011
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1. Wear Sturdy Loose Fitting Gloves when using your winch. Gloves that are a little oversized are a better choice. When you are retracting your winch cable, if you are not wearing gloves and your hands are on the cable, your hand can get sucked in between the cable and the Winch roller. I have seen what can happen to your hand if you do not take this precaution. On a trip to Elephant Hill in Utah in 2008, we met a few wheelers out there. One of the gentlemen had lost his finger when retracting the winch cable because his hand got caught on the cable and in the winch roller. If he had been wearing a loose pair of gloves, the winch cable will pull off your loose glove and not pull in your hand. The gent acknowledged that mistake and now he wears loose gloves when winching every time. Wearing gloves will also give you some protection from metal splinters if you are using a steel cable. A great alternative to the stock steel cable is a synthetic line which is much lighter than a steel cable and easier to recoil back into the winch. During the winch clinic I took at Badlands Offroad Adventures 4x4training.com this happened to me also. During one of the scenarios, I was winching the cable in as it was nearing completion and my fingertips inadvertently got caught in between the winch cable and roller. I stopped the winch by letting off the remote trigger but there is a lag time as the winch slowly comes to a stop. During that slowdown there is a positive inward pull that can crush your fingers. Luckily I had my loose fitting gloves on and they were caught in between the roller and the cable and I quickly and instinctively pulled my hand free and the winch rolled to a complete stop.
2. Parachute: When winching anything, it is recommended to put a “Parachute” over the winch cable. Examples of parachutes might be a small blanket, jacket, sweatshirt, tarp, etc. Anything that can lay over the cable in case the cable snaps or the coupling comes undone. This will prevent a fly back of the hook or shackle. People have been killed while winching when cables have snapped or couplings coming undone and the flying hook or shackle becomes a deadly object. Make sure you don’t suck the parachute into the winch as winching is near completion.
3. Safe distance from winch line and couplings: Stay behind the vehicle door or behind the vehicle when winching if at all possible. You want to create a space where you can escape if the winch cable should snap or a coupling comes undone. If you are using two vehicles or more and are using several winches at the same time, if at all possible, stay on the outside of the winch cables and not in between the two vehicles and two winch cables. If you are not involved in the winching or spotting process, stay out of the way for your own safety.
4. Hooks down: When winching and attaching the hook, make sure to point the nose down just in case in comes off the connecting shackle the momentum should force the hook downward into the ground and not flying through the air.
5. Proper winding in of steel winch cable. In order to properly coil your steel winch cable, you need to coil it up neatly and under slight resistance. To do this, attach the winch cable to a secure point and uncoil completely and in a straight line and extended. Put the vehicle in neutral gearing and the parking brake slightly on. This will provide the necessary tension without harming the transmission. Then winch in the cable slowly as you are coiling the steel cable neatly on to the Main Roller. Your rig will resist slightly but the winch will overcome the friction and coil up your steel cable under the right tension. A neatly coiled steel cable into the winch means a neatly coiled cable coming out of the winch when you need it most.