A Harsh Reminder

I’m taking a break from my break to bring up an important and frequently forgotten rule, unfortunately inspired by this: Hiker who died after falling from Palolo trail ID’d

I was first made aware of this rule by a man working for the electric company way back when they had to physically climb up the utility poles to do repairs.

The Three Point Rule

It’s quite simple: Maintain three points of contact at all times! One hand and two feet, two hands and one foot – in dire straits I suppose one hand, one foot, and your teeth could count. Holding onto someone else only counts in a life threatening situation where the other person volunteers to risk their life to save your stupid ass. Any time there is even the faintest, farfetched possibility of danger this rule must be followed without fail.

The point of the rule is if one point of contact fails you still have two more to save yourself. This also requires maintaining your balance to avoid over-reliance on those three points of contact. Therefore, leaning out to take a one-handed picture defeats the purpose and breaks the rule because if your handhold fails you’re done. Three points of contact are your insurance policy, but having insurance doesn’t mean you’re free to start a bonfire in your living room.

When I talked that lineman he was nearing retirement and had never had an accident on the job. He told me the most dangerous time was when the new guys had been on the job just long enough to get comfortable. They’d been told the rules and heard all the horror stories but they’d almost invariably stop following the rules because they no longer felt the same fear as when they were new, and before long they’d fall.

This applies to any risky endeavor really. Your level of comfort doesn’t change the nature of the situation. Comfort is more a function of familiarity and ignorance than actual risk. Follow the rules and live to risk another day.

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