In the past, this blog has touched on boating safety and even rafting safety. Recently, there were rafting accidents in the news, so this topic is once again quite relevant. Read on to learn about a recent drowning incident and how hazards like these can be avoided.
Ripped from the Headlines
According to an article from the Daily Voice, a 22-year-old man from New York recently drowned during a rafting accident. In another 2022 story, a California man and his son died on a whitewater rafting trip on the North Fork of the Nooksack River in Washington state. Still another sad story involves a 45-year-old man losing his life on a guided rafting trip.
According to national statistics, the number of fatalities ranges between six and ten per year. The incidence of commercially guided rafting fatalities is estimated to range from one death per 250,000 person visits to one death per 400,000 person visit days.
As you can see, millions of people enjoy whitewater rafting each year. Incidents like this are rare, but undeniably shocking. They remind us that there is still danger involved in an otherwise safe activity. By shining a light on proper procedures, we can help to prevent tragedies like the ones we recently saw in the news.
Start with Swimming Safety
As always, water safety begins with swimming lessons. Being fit and a strong swimmer are some of the best ways to prevent against drownings. While accidents may still occur, knowing how to handle yourself in a rushing current can save your life.
Clothes and Gear
When swimming in a pool, the floor is often smooth. In a raging river, there could be all manners of sharp objects lurking under the surface. Anyone who is considering rafting should dress appropriately. This begins with wearing water shoes. These specially designed shoes can improve your grip and protect your feet.
After the shoes, a proper U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket is essential. These floatation devices have been specially tested and regulated to meet rigorous safety standards. In a pinch, they could save your life. A life jacket should be worn by anyone who sets foot in a boat.
For one last note on clothing, be sure to dress according to the weather. First of all, the rushing water of a river can be surprisingly chilly. To combat this, wearing a wet suit can help to keep you warm in the cold water. Similar to the swim shoes, don’t forget to wear a helmet. A protective helmet can keep you safe from rocks, branches and other potential hazards.
Grading and Guides
Aside from your gear, it is crucial to never overestimate your abilities. If you are inexperienced, having a guide can seriously help to improve rafting safety. Having someone who understands what to do in an emergency helps every team member. Be sure to listen closely whenever your guide gives instructions.
Expert help aside; it pays to know the river grading system. This international standard system rates rivers from Easy to Extreme. It is a six-stage evaluation that is quite similar to how the ratings on ski slopes work. A bit of investigating before setting out will help you to choose the best safety rapids for your abilities.