Seeing as how a lot of people here are newbies to off roading I thought I'd start a thread on safe 4wheeling and proper etiquette. Please feel free to add to this thread.
Your first stop should be here:
This article shows all you need to know about proper winching and recovery.
Also a good read:
Safety rules of thumb:
-Never use a tow strap with hooks or chain on the ends. These are tow straps and not recovery straps. When those chains break they go flying with enough force to kill.
-When recovering somebody never attach to a moving part like an axle. While it may seem strong you'll end up pulling off the axle with a strong enough pull. Always attach to a tow hook or frame.
-Never attach to the ball of a tow hitch. They have been known to break and fly off. They will take your head off. Instead, remove the hitch, insert the looped end of the strap into the hitch receiver and put the hitch pin through.
-Synthetic winch rope is safer than steel. It won't recoil back as bad as a steel rope. There are pictures of trucks with winch cables going through windshields, head rests and sheet metal. When winching with a steel rope keep all spectators away and hang a weight, like a jacket or blanket in the middle of the steel rope to minimize the danger.
-Hi lift jacks are dangerous but indispensible. Be careful with them.
-Never go anywhere alone.
I know this has been posted before, but it's important enough to post again. Please tread lightly. http://treadlightly.org/
. Our trails are being closed because of irresponsible people trashing the trails.
-Don't litter and pick up all trash you see on the trail. This includes not leaving toilet paper and feminine items. Part of the rubicon trail was closed for just this reason.
-Do not go off trail and blaze your own. This causes unnecessary errosion. This includes not going around an obstacle just because you can't make it. if there is an established, legal bypass then by all means use it. Again, the rubicon trail and others are being threatened with closure because of this.
-DO NOT TRESPASS. If you see an open, muddy field that's calling your name, don't do it. This reflects poorly on the rest of us and we already have a bad reputation with the non-wheeling public. If you don't know whether you're supposed to be there or not, DON'T DO IT!
-When winching to a tree use a tree saver. This basically looks like a short recovery strap that prevents a winch line from digging into the bark, killing the tree.
-Join a 4x4 club to teach you where to go legally and how to wheel safely.
-Join organizations such as the blue ribbon coalition and for us californians, cal 4wheel.
Again, feel free to add your own links and tips to this thread. I'm sure there's lots I forgot.