White Water Safety PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 24 March 2009 20:46

American Whitewater Guidelines

The following guidelines, adapted from the American Whitewater Safety Code, are geared especially for Scouting-related whitewater activities and are an excellent supplement to the Safety Afloat guidelines.

  1. Be a competent swimmer
    Being a safe whitewater boater does not require Olympian swimming skills, but you should be comfortable and competent in the water and be able to handle yourself underwater.
  2. Wear a personal flotation device (PFD)
    A properly fitted vest-type PFD offers back and shoulder protection as well as the flotation needed to swim safely in whitewater.
  3. Wear a solid, correctly fitted helmet
    A helmet is essential in kayaks or covered canoes and is recommended for open canoeists using thigh straps and rafters running steep drops.
  4. Keep your boat under control
    Your skills should be sufficiently developed to enable you to stop or get to shore before reaching danger. Do not enter a rapid unless you are reasonably sure that you can run it safely or swim it without injury.
  5. Be aware of river hazards
    Whitewater rivers present many hazards, such as high water of very cold water, strainers (brush or trees in the water), dams, ledges, holes, undercut rocks, or places where broaching (hitting an obstacle broadside) is likely. If you do not think you can boat around a hazard, get out and walk.
  6. Avoid Boating Alone
    The recommended minimum party is three people in at least two craft.
  7. Know the limits of your boating ability
    Do not attempt rivers or rapids that require paddling skills more advanced than those you possess
  8. Know how to self-rescue
    Learn and practice self-rescue techniques such as recovering from a capsize.
  9. Be trained in rescue skills
    Be able to perform CPR and first aid, including being able to recognize and treat hypothermia.
  10. Be suitable equipped and prepared for emergencies
    • Wear shoes that protect your feet.
    • Carry a throw rope, knife, whistle, and waterproof matches.
    • Tie your glasses on.
    • Bring duct tape on short runs and a full repair kit on isolated rivers.
    • Do not wear bulky clothing that could get waterlogged and hinder your ability to swim.
  11. Be responsible for your own safety
    • Make thoughtful and responsible decisions about whether to participate in a trip.
    • Choose appropriate equipment.
    • Scout all rapids first and use your best judgment to decide whether to run or portage.
    • Evaluate your own and your group's safety on an ongoing basis. Speak with anyone whose actions on the water are dangerous, whether the person is a part of your group or not.
For more information about whitewater safety and to view the complete American Whitewater Safety Code, visit www.americanwhitewater.org
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 April 2009 21:58

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