10 tips for getting out from under when you’re stuck
You may know the feeling. You’re driving along a road just fine. Then you slip, slide and come to a halt. Your vehicle is officially stuck. Natural inclination is to get out and get unstuck—quickly.
In our last blog post Remember Jordan, we saw the devastating effects of ‘taking a run at it’ and attempting vehicle recovery on your own, without the proper equipment. If you find yourself stuck—your best bet for getting out is to call a certified, towing professional. They have the know-how, training and equipment to get you out.
Not an option? These tips can help you recover your vehicle properly. Done right and done safely, you can get out without injury or incident and back safely on the road.
Start with journey management
- If travelling for work, follow proper journey management protocol and outline any hazard considerations on your planned route before heading out. Let your supervisor (and a family member) know your expected arrival time and when you’ve actually made it to your destination.
- Give your vehicle the once-over and stock up on emergency kit essentials.
- Check the road reports for weather conditions.
Attempting the tow
- If you’re in a position where you must tow and have another vehicle present, start by checking for hazards around you. Assess your danger/safe zones. Near a road or traffic? Place warning devices at least 30 metres (100 feet) in front of you and 30 metres behind you. Ensure there is a clear, straight path to pull the vehicle out.
- Don’t have the right equipment? Improvising is not an option. Only attempt vehicle recovery if you have the right equipment engineered for this purpose. Do NOT use items that are used to secure loads, such as chains, hooks or web slings—they can become deadly projectiles.
- Check the vehicle weight (GVW) on the plate of the driver’s door—don’t exceed ratings for the recovery equipment. The vehicle doing the towing needs to be heavier than or roughly the same weight as the vehicle being towed.
- Use recovery straps in good condition with proper loops, not hooks (think deadly metal missile). Check the strap length and strength. The length needs to be at least six metres (20 feet) including the loops. Strap strength: the minimum breaking strength (MBS) should be two to three times the weight of the stuck vehicle.
- Check your owner’s manual for information on how to properly secure the recovery straps or equipment to your vehicle. Only attach recovery straps to secure load-rated, engineered recovery components such as receivers and shackles and with a working load limit (WLL) that exceed the strap’s MBS. Keep it tight and do not jerk the strap before towing.
- Lay out the recovery strap. Pull the vehicle on a straight path in front. Plan ahead and agree on hand signals. Accelerate slowly (about 10-12km/hr). Slow and steady is best. If after three attempts the struck vehicle is still stuck, it’s time to stop and find a tow truck. Only remove straps when both vehicles are fully stopped and secured.
- Constant communication will keep you safe. STOP if you are ever unsure or feel unsafe.
Murray Elliott, President of Energy Safety Canada reminds workers, “Sadly, in Jordan’s case—a young life was unnecessarily taken too soon. Before taking a run at it—let’s remember Jordan. A proper field risk assessment, knowing the basics of safe vehicle recovery, using the right equipment and understanding kinetic forces at play can prevent accidents from happening in the first place. Calling a professional reduces the risk and gets the job done safely. No job is worth losing a life.”
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