Tips for being safe on the river:

If you have ever been out on the river, you know the water is a force not worth fighting. Knowing water features, safety procedures and how to handle certain situations means you can have a blast out there while knowing what to do if something goes wrong.

Be prepared!

  1. Know what you are dealing with and what your limits are. What class rapids will you be going through? What hazards do you have out on the water? What is the level of the water and how does the level affect the water speed and features? What lies below a section of big rapids. If you have a guide, it is not so important for you to know these details because your guide will take care of it. If you are without a guide, however, know the details of where you are going as well as your skills and limits. And whether you are with a guide or not, knowing the strength of a river and your swimming abilities should be something thought about either way.
  1. Be prepared for a rescue! If you are going out on the river without a guide, practice rescues and self rescues before! You can do this in a lake or a big eddy.
    1. For kayaking: practice your roles, your T-rescues, and your swims.
    2. For rafting: practice your raft flips, buddy rescues and self rescue- getting yourself onto a flipped or upright raft from in the water.

Whether you are kayaking or rafting, practice throw bags, throwing and catching as well as what to do and where to swim once in the water.

  1. Always listen to your guide! If you have a guide, they will know what you should do during the trip and during a rescue. Listen well during safety instructions, during your trip, as well as when something happens on the river, this is how everyone will stay safe. Any directions in the boat (jump left/right, get down, hold on, forward paddle, stop) are used to get the boat and you down the river safely while having a wicked time. If you are kayaking, follow your guide and their directions! They know the best lines down the river and how to direct you.
  1. Wear your PPE and keep it on! Always wear your life jacket and helmet, both should be fitted and snug with buckles secure without restricting your mobility. Even when stopped at the side of the river, keep them on. Injuries happen from slipping and falling on wet rocks so keep your brain protected!
  1. Feel comfortable where you are sitting in the raft with good feet placement and ready to hold on! The ride will get bumpy and it is OK if you fall out of the raft, we’ll get you back in, but stay in if you can!
  1. Float feet up and forward. If you do have the pleasure of falling out of the raft and you get a bit far from the boat, or you flip your kayak and must swim, don’t panic! Know the defensive swimming position. Float on your back, feet up and facing downstream, and whether you are in a defensive or offensive swimming position, never stand in the middle of the river! The reason you need to keep your feet up is because there are rocks and debris at the bottom of the river. If your foot gets caught, you can get stuck and pulled under the water. Always keep your feet up! We keep our feet facing downstream so they are between us and any hazards on the river.