Incident Prevention Magazine

2 minutes reading time (449 words)

Stuck in the Mud

With the winter thaw occurring in many parts of the country, this TailGate Topic focuses on changing field conditions. Many times our tasks require us to work off the beaten path, placing us in muddy locations. Getting stuck becomes a reality when heavy vehicles are driven over muddy ground.

Recovering a vehicle from the mud can be very dangerous and much care and planning are needed to ensure it is done safely. The degree of hazard is proportionate to how stuck the vehicle is—in other words, the degree to which the vehicle will resist your effort. If the vehicle is losing traction, a small amount of force applied to a rolling load will enable the vehicle to become unstuck, resulting in a rather low risk evolution.

On the other end of the spectrum, a vehicle buried up to its chassis requires much more force to be moved since you’re not only dealing with the weight of the vehicle, but also the weight and resistance of the mud on and around the vehicle. This condition creates an extremely hazardous situation when towing operations occur because a herculean amount of force is needed to free the stuck vehicle.

The following tips will help keep you safe before and during your vehicle recovery attempt:

•�Always take time to assess your situation and plan carefully.
•�Consider the amount of resistance and force involved to recover the stuck vehicle.
•�Use the right equipment for your situation. Just because you have a tow strap or cable doesn’t mean it will safely handle the force you exert on it.
•�Inspect tow hooks and straps/cables for wear and tear before you use them. Tow hooks should be free of rust, grime and any defects.� Straps should be free of cuts, frays and dirt.
•�Wear leather gloves when handling tow straps/cables.
•�The frame is the only part of a truck that can really handle pulling the weight of another vehicle. Pulling from an axle is not recommended. Although it may seem like a sturdy part of the vehicle, it can be easily bent or ripped off.
•�Always pull as straight as possible in line with the vehicle. Consider leaving the stuck vehicle’s hood up to protect the driver in case of a broken tow cable or strap.
•�Keep onlookers a safe distance from an operating tow line. Much energy is stored on an operating towing strap/cable. If the strap/cable is broken, it will let go with enough force to seriously injure or kill a bystander. Think safety at all times.

Finally, if the recovery appears to be difficult, have a professional towing/recovery company assist you. Sometimes it is better to leave the tough job for the professionals.

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Wednesday, 11 December 2019

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