Tips for Zip Line Safety

By Sheridan Tano , last updated July 15, 2011

Zip lines are fun to ride, but they can also be dangerous so you must know some safety tips before your trip. A fall from a zip line can lead to serious injury or even death. You can protect yourself by following these tips for zip line safety.

Setting Up a Zip Line

If you're setting up your own zip line, you must make sure the conditions of the zip line and the surrounding area are safe. First, if you are securing the zip line between two trees, so you want to make sure those trees are alive and sturdy enough to safely hold a zip line. Rather than guessing yourself, consult a professional. If there are platforms on either end of the zip line, make sure they are sturdy and have guardrails.

Second, make sure the zip line is secured properly. Follow the instructions with your kit. The zip line should have a 6 percent incline, or a drop of 6 feet per 100 feet of cable. A steeper incline may be unsafe because you will move down the zip line faster.

Third, create a safe fall zone around the zip line. Remove tripping hazards and cover the ground with shock absorbing material, such as bark mulch or wood chips.

Using a Zip Line

Wear proper safety gear when zip lining, like a helmet, goggles, knee pads and harness. Your harness should have a backup lanyard in case the primary cable fails. Before you jump, double-check that your harness is properly secured. Also, make sure that the rider doesn't exceed the weight limit for the cables.

Secure long hair before you jump. Don't try to grab the cable to brake yourself unless you're wearing a special braking glove and are trained to brake safely. Grabbing the cable in front of the pulley can lead to lacerations and dislocated shoulders.

Always inspect the zip line and safety gear for damage before you ride. If anything is cracked, split, stretched or corroded, don't use it.

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