safety on the water - river running safety
|The FIRST premise in kayaking and
river running is self-rescue.
Save your own ass
first, then you may be able to assist others.
When on the river, my rule is safety
first, and every time. Get safe.
Proper planning and
thought out decisions equal better results.
Human beings are fragile when injured, and
when under considerable environmental stress, human life can slip away
River runners must be prepared for all situations.
Within the model of safety, self-rescue is primary.
Saving your own butt is key to being a resourcefull kayaker or boatman.
Once you have gained your own safety, then you can consider helping
others if it is safe to do so.
Be weary of the those quick to act
without thinking, the "hero syndrome" can be deadly. Heroes often make
a bad situation worse.
Kayaking and river running is exposure.
Many times a boater is out of vision from the
group, in the crux of a drop and out of vision, or behind the group and
just out of vision when shit goes down. Being a quick thinker, knowing
what to do in a variety of situations and constantly moving are
essential skills for a paddler to possess.
Part of running rivers safely is proper preparation.
Proper preparation includes having all the necessary equipment, having
it in good working order, being familiar with the proper deployment and
use of gear, and having a calm, level head to deal with unexpected
The standard rule
accepted and in practice by river runners is that a boater is
responsible for the safety and whereabouts of the boater behind him,
regardless of circumstance. If the guy in front is paddling too
fast, you are still responsible for the boater behind you. Never be in
a rush to run a river.
Always boat with the courtesy and respect that
you would expect from others.
Group rescue involves medical knowledge (CPR, First Aid, EMT skills,
knowing how to properly diagnose and treat hypothermia and trauma.
Group rescue involves knowing how to assist with a wrapped boat by
using mechanical advantage.
Deploying rope systems and mechanical advantage involves practice,
proper equipment and safe, established rescue skills and protocols.
|Crew selection and
rules of running are key items for any creek or river run, because each
of a crew is responsible for himself, and for everyone else on the
crew. I rely upon you to assist me (should I need it) and you
rely upon me to help you out (if you should need help).
must be tight, communicate well, must be able to fully trust each
other, and must have
the base skills to undertake the run at hand.
group needs to be small enough to be effective on the
group with too many members is more of a burden than its worth.
good paddling crew checks their egos at the door. The
river is NO place for ego-based decision making.
|River Running Style
|Typical rules of
engagement for river safety:
Wear a properly fitted PFD at all times on the river and on the
shoreline. If you are running a river and wearing a helmet, keep your
helmet on until you are in camp.
Leave helmets on for scouts.
Be prepared for the extreme elements and be ready to deal with them.
Wear protective footwear and proper clothing.
Carry a first aid kit, review medical protocols and stay current with
CPR and First Aid.
Tell someone where you are going and when you should return.
Boat river sections that fit your ability/skill level the best. Be
honest. Be practical, it is your life. If you cannot see your
line, do not run the rapid. If you need others to run before you
run, consider portage or an easier grade section of river.
Boating within your comfort zone is what makes your boating career fun
and life long.
Avoid the trashy rapids. Road-blasted, irregular or junky rapids are
best off left alone. Exceptions are made, but running mank is a
personal decision and its better to run clean rapids and keep kayaking.
Never run a rapid without seeing a clear path through it. When
you doubt anything about a rapid, pull over and scout or portage.
When a boater decides to run a rapid that others in the group are not
running, then safety has to be recalculated.
When injuries occur on the river, when one person gets hurt, the entire
group must work to evacuate that injury.
Think like a group, act like a group, and stay as a group.
Dress on the river like you are dressing in preparation for taking a
Wear a full coverage helmet that fits properly.
| boat selection
|stay up to date on boat
styles and river rescue and safety technology
product design flaws and product updates are key information for the
owners of safety and river gear
dishes out plenty of variables in addition to the variables that
Having the skills to properly, quickly and safely deal with a pinned
kayak, a wrapped boat or a person stranded in difficult to access
terrain makes all the difference in your success.
how to work with ropes. Practice and deploy frequently to keep
the mind fresh on rope use.
Consider taking a certified whitewater rescue course, and revisiting
the course materials on frequent intervals.
Know river knots
to prevent hypothermia, to regulate body temperature, and to stay
hydrated and fueled.
Risks to our survival in order of threat:
Why is this?
Because you can die of exposure/hypothermia before you die of thirst,
and you can die of thirst before you starve to death.
How to avoid the hardships of exposure?
Pack, review and use a good survival kit.
Kit (this entire kit can be contained inside one standard sized
nalgene bottle ):
- bright orange survival blanket (sometimes
called a "heat sheet")
- small compass
- Fox whistle
- candle (with aluminum foil wrapped round the
- water purification tablets
- LED flashlight
- two lighters
- TP in
- plastic wrap
- good knife
- sunscreen and bug dope