River Safety

Everyone wants to have a good time in the water. Here are some tips to doing it safely while respecting the power of Mother Nature.

Rule #1
Respect the River

You can learn to read patterns in the river but it can NOT be controlled.
Leave No Trace. The river isn’t going anywhere, but our trash is. Be sure to keep a dry bag and rope handy, tie down all loose items and keep our rivers clean.

Rule #2
Always have a buddy

Never wade, tube, swim, or boat without a buddy. Go with someone who knows the river.

Rule #3
Life Jacket!

Essential for water activities, always have a life jacket on your body or nearby.
It’s called a life jacket because it works!

Rule #4
Trip planning
Consider the water levels and timing of your trip. Allow for 1 hour of paddling for every 2 miles of river, and more if you are fishing. Write details of your plans down, and share it with someone you trust.
Rule #5
Weather/time of day

Keep an eye on the sky. Look at the forecast beforehand, and if you are caught in bad conditions then pull over until it passes.
Weather gauges line the river in several locations, keeping tabs on the water level can make your trip a much more pleasurable one.

Rule #6
No alcohol/no drugs
Two words: dehydration and impairment. Impaired coordination and judgement lead to the making of poor decisions that spell life or death. Dehydration is a result of drinking alcohol but also engaging in water activities.

Identifying hazards in moving water

What starts out as a leisurely float down the river can turn for the worst when you aren’t paying attention. Understanding the power and movement in the river is key to staying safe.

  • High waters are often clear to see, if you look at the river gauge and only see yellow or red then do not enter the water.
  • Swift, strong currents and uneven riverbeds can be deceiving. Ankle deep waters can still flip you over. Foot entrapment, broken glass, and trash are more common threats to recreationists.
    > Keep your feet at the surface and pointed downstream!
  • Strainers are collections of debris that allow water to flow but not people or boats. Never go underneath or through them. Walk around, or climb over if necessary.
  • Diving or jumping into shallow waters can cause permanent injury, paralysis, or death.
  • Inappropriate dress and irresponsible use of alcohol and drugs pose serious risk to swimmers and boaters. Cold water or a bit of windchill can lead to injury, loss of coordination, and potentially death
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