Drowning danger arrives in many forms. In your backyard, there are multiple layers of safety you can employ to help minimize danger. But when you are on a raging river, you can’t rely on a pool fence or window alarms. Today, let’s take a look at some important river rafting safety tips.
Understanding the Dangers
Extreme sports like white water rafting can be exhilarating, but it is crucial to be prepared for the potential hazards. The first rule of river rafting safety is to know some of the major risks.
River Rafting Safety and Drowning Danger
Obviously, drowning is the heaviest concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
, drowning is a major cause of death all over the world. Not only that, the currents when river rafting can be quick and difficult to escape.
Before entering the boat, everyone should have taken swimming lessons. Of course, no matter how good of a swimmer a person may be, the current can still be too much.
In a pool, the bottom is a controlled smooth surface. In a raging river, revelers don’t have any such guarantee. The water could contain sharp rocks, downed trees and all manner of debris. The best tip for river rafting safety is to try to stay out of the water as much as possible.
However, it is easy to fall out of the boat on the choppy bouncing waves. In this case, being pulled under or trapped is a constant possibility. To help, it is recommended that all rafters wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket. These floatation devices have been specially tested and regulated to meet rigorous safety standards. Take a look at our dedicated article about life jackets and other floatation devices
to learn more.
Use the Grading System
It always pays to be prepared. Just like an inexperienced skier should not be tackling expert-tier mountain slopes, river rafters should understand their level of fitness and ability.
To help determine whether you should tackle a particular river, you should use the International Grading System
. From Easy to Extreme, this six-stage grading system reflects the technical difficulty and suggested skill level for sections of river. It was created by the American Whitewater Association
to evaluate rivers throughout the world.
Fitness is critical for river rafting safety. Don’t overestimate your abilities, or there could be grave consequences.
Before heading out, it is always a good idea to learn as much as you can about the environment. An experienced guide can also be a life saver. Having someone know what to do in an emergency and how to handle themselves on the water helps every team member. Be sure to listen closely whenever your guide gives instructions. It can help you to avoid potential dangers.
Beyond the rating system and a guide, don’t forget to use common sense. Before heading onto the rapids, scout out the river. This will give you a good idea of what obstacles to expect as you rocket down the waterway.
Even in hotter climates, rushing river water can be deceptively cold. Be sure to dress warmly and appropriately. A wet suit can help to keep you warm in case you fall into the water.
Beyond this, safety gear is a necessity. For the sharp, rocky riverbed, don’t forget some swim shoes. Additionally, like the life jacket we mentioned earlier, a helmet can help you to avoid trouble like collisions with rocks or other debris.
Never go rafting alone and absolutely do not drink or use drugs before hitting the water. Remember: drinking and swimming
never mix. Safety and preparation are the true keys to river rafting safety.