Think Before You Tug

Here is something that happens every so often when the best intentions meet the limits of the materials involved.

A rope used for a tug of war snapped due to over extending the capacity of the rope.

The problem is the hands around the rope are made of flesh and blood and they are the final losers for those near the break.

Having been an arborist for 41 years now, I have seen a few ropes break. In my line of work you can almost always see it ahead of time and it just when you do not want it to happen.  I would not put my hand on a rope under that much stress any more than I would a hot stove.

I see ropes smoke through tree crotches, melt together from pressure, make cowhide gloves so hot you have to throw them off or be burned. It’s hard to believe until you see it happen.

If you ever have a “tug of war” event for charity or at a school or camp, make sure you have a strong enough rope made of quality materials – no polypropylene. I would wager any tree service would let you borrow a ¾ or 5/8 line with an 8,000 lb capacity.

If you have any doubts about the rope get two and tie a short piece of lighter line in the middle for safety.

And for fun:

Here at my place I have had tug of war competitions with small kids at picnics. I split it up girls versus boys and put the girls on a slight downward slope the boys would never figure out.

We watched those little girls drag the boys across the lawn until one father ran down to help the boys out. He wound up on his back and almost had his shorts dragged off.

It’s a nice lesson in physics for everyone.

But if you try to set a record or put so many bodies on the rope it is the same as pulling with two trucks, then you have trouble.