When people think about hammocks they imagine some far off tropical paradise, somewhere by the beach or in the jungle, with palm trees multi-colored birds, and the hot sun bearing down on them. The hammock originated in Central America and can be traced as far back as the Mayan civilization. In the hot, humid jungle having something that was simple, easy to set up and allowed one to rest just about anywhere was of great importance.
The hammock has maintained its popularity in modern times. In fact, a hammock has become a central icon of Latin America and something enjoyed by most people who visit this region.
While it is made for comfort there is, as with anything, the danger of injury present. Here we will look at some basic guidelines one should follow to ensure that they stay safe while using a hammock.
Pick The Right Spot: Picking the appropriate place to set up one’s hammock is very important. One needs to ensure that two strong and sturdy points are selected from which to attach both sides of the hammock. The classic area of choice is between two strong trees. When fastening to trees make sure that the tree strap is in a place where it is not sliding down the trunk.
“The area should also be inspected for animal habitation. One does not want to string up a hammock close to an ants nest or large burrough. Lastly, the chosen area should provide some shade and shelter from the sun and elements,” says Molly Firs, a lifestyle writer at Draftbeyond and Researchpapersuk.
Set Up Properly: There are many different opinions on the best way to tie up a hammock if one does not have purpose-built suspension straps, but most agree that the falconer's knot or the mooring hitch is the best for this application. The hammock should be arranged so that it is not so high off the ground that a fall can cause injury but not so low that a heavy individual may bottom out the hammock.
The hammock should be strung tightly, but still allow for movement; the angle of the suspension straps should be around 30 degrees off the horizon. Before stringing up the hammock the two anchoring locations should be inspected thoroughly.
Inspect Hammock: Hammocks are made with different weaving techniques and different materials. Choosing what type of hammock to buy depends largely on personal preference as well as who will be using the hammock. If small children will be enjoying the hammock it is best to pick one that does not have loops or openings in the material as feet, toes, and ankles can get caught in the space and lead to injury. “The best type of Hammock for small children is a Brazilian Hammock. The Brazilian style uses soft fabrics to weave a solid hammock without openings. This ensures that small children will not get caught up in the hammock, especially when they are exiting it,” writes Mary Martinez a camping blogger at Writinity and LastMinuteWriting. However, most camping hammocks are generally suitable for all ages of children, as long as they are pitched at a safe height. As with adults, the ideal hammock for the child depends on the individual. The hammock should also be inspected for any tears, abrasions or other imperfections that can cause it to tear while in use.
Use Bug Nets Where Applicable: Many families in North America have taken to camping with hammocks. Camping hammocks are easy to use and easy to carry - a great alternative to large tents. The major downside to this option is bugs. With many camping hammocks, bugs are able to penetrate the fabric, leaving you exposed. Additionally, bugs can find their way inside as they seek warmth. Using a bug screen, a net-like structure that goes over the hammock is all that is needed to prevent unwanted bugs.
Always Have A Light Nearby At Night: Sleeping in the woods is usually a safe affair but things can happen. Being caught in a hammock without any light is not the most ideal of situations. It is strongly advised to always keep a flashlight or other light source within arms reach.
Conclusion: The fact that hammocks have survived as a tradition for so long is a testament to their comfort and practicality. Whether it be lounging seaside in some tropical paradise or by the campfire somewhere far north of the tropics, the hammock is a great item as long as basic safety precautions are followed.