What are snatch straps & when should you use them?
Snatch straps are basically an elastic tow rope, used for recovering vehicles which have become stuck. The snatch strap stretches under force, so it removes the sudden jerk of conventional chains or tow ropes... but there is a big need for caution and knowledge before you use them.
When is it time to use your Snatch Strap?
The elastic nature of a snatch strap coupled with the incredible force running through them makes them very dangerous. Unfortunately the low cost and incredible ease of use means that they can be the “go to” solution when in fact there are much safer recovery options available.
Snatch straps are handy but dangerous, here's why:
Harmful extreme forces
Snatch straps enable the towing vehicle to get a good run up, moving much quicker with more force to effectively 'spring' the stuck vehicle out of trouble... but if something goes wrong with that force, the towing vehicle can be pulled back instead, the snatch strap could break and fly through the air, or a chunk of metal can be pulled off the vehicle and catapult out of control.
Mistakes through lack of education
The main danger that comes through the use of snatch straps is not knowing how to use them. Because the fact is, the dangers are not widely publicised. So before using them, you need to have a basic understanding of off road recovery forces, understanding snatch strap capacities, recovery points, equaliser straps and lifting equipment.
Unsuitable recovery points
The most dangerous part of a snatch strap recovery is where you attach it to each vehicle. Are your recovery points rated for snatch strap recoveries? There's every likelihood that they are not, because there's a big difference between towing or winching a vehicle out traditionally and applying the huge forces associated with a snatch strap.
Accidents through a lack of control
Snatch straps use a huge amount of energy, which is released over a tiny period in time. So it's very tricky to control the exact amount of force you apply to both vehicles, and you're flying blind as to whether that force is enough to move the stuck vehicle, or not. The truth is, it's all a bit of a guessing game... so you need to make sure you have enough knowledge to make an 'educated' guess, considering how stuck the vehicle is, how the strap will stretch and how much of a run up the towing vehicle can get.