A tape and karabiner are two of the simplest pieces of rescue equipment – here are some ways you can put them to good use

Lowering, lifting and dragging

This is probably what I use my sling for the most. It is so quick to clip on to assist with lifting and lowering up and down steep riverbanks or just dragging your boat across a field at the end of the day when you’ve had too much fun on the water!

Towing a boat

I avoid towing boats on moving water (I usually just push them into an eddy by hand) however it can be a useful trick to have up your sleeve. If I ever use a tape to tow a boat, it will be after the rapids, across a deep open flow with minimal hazards and I will take the time to empty the boat of water completely. Keeping the tape either in my hand, or looped over my shoulder so that I can drop the tape easily. 


A sling can be a really quick way to back up another rescuer from their chest harness. Clip the sling in with a locking karabiner and stand in a position so that you can offer the most support possible against the likely direction of pull. With assistance, the rescuer may be able to lean out to retrieve kit or stand somewhere with a throwbag that doesn’t have a great footing.

Gaining advantage

It’s super easy to set up a 4:1 mechanical advantage with a tape. A sling is also a really nice way to add a vector pull on a tensioned rope during a boat extraction too.

Making anchors

A tape is ideal to make an anchor around a tree or boulder. If using a tape without stitched ends, wrap the tape around the anchor three times, tie a couple of overhand knots with the loose ends to secure it and clip the other two loops.  If you ‘wrap three and pull two’ there won’t be as much strain on the knots and they will be easier to undo after being loaded. Of course, if you are using the Snake Sling, it is super easy to make an anchor around a tree, you just clip into both ends of the sling!

Coiled short throw

Store your Safety Tape in a nice neat coil in the front pocket of your buoyancy aid and it will be instantly ready for a short five metre throw. This can be really effective for close range swimmers. Keep a karabiner attached to the free end and you can clip onto anything close to hand in an instant too!

For more water rescue coaching from Chris, you can find his collected articles in Safety and Rescue Essentials, an e-book and printed edition available over on Chris’ website.