Fred Whitford may be the director of pesticide programs, but he's taught farmers about everything from strapping down loads correctly to using proper hitch pins. Now he's teaching them how to pull vehicles out of the mud, especially if one of the vehicles is a sprayer filled with chemicals, without harming anyone or the environment.
"I usually check what is in the back of farmers' pickups at meetings," he quips. "There is stuff in there obviously meant to be used to pull people out, like frayed rope or chain fastened together with soft-grade bolts, or chain that is so worn the links are stretched, that I wouldn't be using to pull anybody out with. Sometimes we get by with it, but sooner or later it may catch up with you."
Whitford says the number one thing to do is to recognize that sooner or later you will have to pull someone or something out of the mud. Have the proper equipment available. Don't rely on an old chain just because it worked last time.
Size up what you're intending to pull with what you have to pull it with. Make sure you're not asking too much of the pulling vehicle. Remember that the mud itself has suction and you have to have enough power to overcome that force to begin with.
The other big tip is to avoid jolting and pulling without tightening up the chain or tow rope first, he notes. "You don't want to jerk on the chain or rope," he says. "When you jerk the stuck vehicle, lots of things can happen, and most of them aren't good."
He is particularly mindful of incidents where a tow rope comes loose, or breaks, and rebounds with such force that it goes through the back window of the pulling vehicle. Several people have had close calls when sitting in the passenger or driver's side and watching the end of the rope and metal attachment smash through the window.