Make sure the rope is in good condition for the type of tying planned. Inspect for high-stranding, nicks, frays, or other signs that the rope may be damaged or weakened. (See “Common Approaches to Care and Storage” for more info.)
Also make sure all straps, carabiners, or other hardware are also in good working condition with no indications of excessive wear or damage.
Keep an emergency release option readily available–meaning within easy reach. An emergency release tool is useless if it’s in your rope bag halfway across the club. (We say: “If you don’t have it on you, then you don’t have it.”) The three major types of emergency release tools that we see people using most often are safety shears, rescue hooks, and knives (read more here). There are many debates about which option is the better option. The likely answer is: the one that you’re most comfortable using.
Knives can be useful if they have a rounded end and smooth, non-cutting edge on one side, but they are probably the highest-risk option, particularly for those who don’t have lots and lots of experience using them for this purpose. Rescue hooks are easier to use one-handed, but we have heard countless stories of people using them incorrectly and also slicing off skin in the process. Be particularly careful with knives and rescue hooks as both can easily cause secondary injuries. We’ve seen hooks catch skin and slice it off, and we’ve seen knives add cuts to both the bottom and the top!
In our experience, most people find that safety shears (high-quality “utility” or emergency shears, not cheap/disposable EMT shears) are the safest option and the one we recommend for most people. Another benefit of safety shears is that anyone can pick them up and use them in reasonably-safe way should an emergency happen and the top is unable to be the one doing the cutting.
Whichever you choose, make sure it’s in good working order and easy to get to. Also, be sure to practice with it so that you know how to use it safely before you have to use it in an emergency!
Note on cutting rope: Remember that you can always buy more rope, but the safety of the people you tie with has no price tag and no limit in value. To help prepare for this, we urge you to practice cutting rope when there is no emergency. We also implore you: do not hesitate to cut rope or ask for rope to be cut! If you overreacted on the side of safety and some rope got cut, you can get more. If you were afraid of overreacting on the side of safety and someone got injured, that’s not so easily fixed. However we do say that, in most situations, it’s usually better to calmly untie than to cut rope except in cases of extreme emergency, because cutting rope can sometimes introduce new problems (like the full of weight of the person suddenly having no support). This is particularly true for up-lines: except in extreme cases (a fire, rope is cutting off air supply, etc.), untying the up-lines and lowering the person to the ground is almost always the safest approach. Once on the ground, feel free to cut rope to relieve pressure in the area of concern more immediately.
It’s a good idea to keep some basic first aid supplies in your rope kit. Many of the pre-packaged kits will work fine, but if you’re making your own, a few items to consider including:
Regardless of whether or not you encounter any problems during your tying, it’s likely that both top and bottom will benefit from water and food afterwards. The stress of an intense bondage session can cause your metabolism to use more energy, so a quick boost may be helpful (though good general nutrition and being adequately fed and hydrated before a session is the best solution). Not to mention that the reward of a sweet treat afterwards is worth more than its nutritional value.
Have blankets or other desired forms of comfort available after the session. Many bottoms feel cold after an intense bondage session, so a blanket can help. Some feel excessively hot, so a way to cool down can help. Know your partner and what spells “comfort” for them and have that ready.