When cracking your whip you should have the safety of four things in mind:
- Your whip
- Your surroundings
- Your spectators and assistants
Safety gear is highly recommended, particularly when learning new techniques. You WILL hit yourself frequently when you're first learning! It is quite possible to give yourself a rope burn or even cut yourself too.
Recommended Safety Gear
- Safety glasses
- Wide brimmed hat
- Long pants
- Long sleeve shirt
- Shoes that cover your toes (no sandals or flip flops)
- Hearing protection if your practicing indoors
- Lightweight work gloves
A good quality whip is a considerable investment. Take good care of it!
- Don't crack your whip on abrasive surfaces like cement, sand, asphalt
- If your whip is leather, don't crack it in wet conditions
- If your whip is paracord and it gets wet, allow it to dry out completely before packing it away
- Allow your whip to break in naturally, just by cracking it. Don't try to bend it by hand to soften it up
- When target cutting, make sure to hit the target with the cracker, not the fall or thong
Remember, a whip cracks because it is traveling over 750 miles per hour. Anything it touches, at or near the moment it cracks, will be getting hit with an incredible amount of force. If the object being hit is small enough you may well send it flying through the air at over 750 miles per hour!
Be conscious about the amount of space needed to crack your whip. An 8 foot whip may have an additional 4 feet or more of reach with the fall and cracker plus your own body movement. That means you need at least a 24 foot area, clear of obstacles, and that assumes that you don't move around much. You will also need about 15 feet of clearance overhead, so watch out for trees, power lines, etc.
Even if you don't have an "audience" per say, cracking a whip in any public area will inevitably attract spectators. Always keep your eyes open, particularly for children and pets that might be fascinated by your activity but also quite unaware of the possible dangers.
If working with an assistant make sure they are fully aware of what you are doing and exactly what they need to do to be safe. When first practicing a new stunt with an assistant it's a good idea to make sure they are garbed in the most protective clothing possible given the planned stunt.