Protect Yourself When You Go Whitewater Rafting

Posted on August 9, 2013

One thing that many California citizens might take part in as the summer draws to a close is a whitewater rafting trip.  But whether you’re experienced or relatively new to this kind of activity,  it’s important that you take certain safety precautions as you’re heading through the rapids.  No matter how much experience you have, you can still be thrown out of the raft by a rogue wave.  To ensure you’re as protected as you possibly can be, consider some of the safety tips on hand from a report out of Ottawa.

Just like any other outdoor activity, you’ll need to have the proper equipment ready to go before you ever even get on a raft.  A wetsuit would be ideal for rafting, but many vacationers prefer to go with something a little more comfortable.  If your’e going to be wearing a swimsuit, make sure you have an ample amount of sunscreen.  If the water’s cold, though, you really should invest in a wetsuit.

A helmet is also a necessity.  If you’re thrown from your raft, you could easily strike your head on a set of rocks or even on another rafter’s paddle and suffer serious brain injuries.  A helmet can provide protection so that you aren’t knocked unconscious, a particularly perilous situation when you’re in the middle of the rapids.

The other piece of gear you’ll need (aside from your paddle) is a life jacket.  Whereas a helmet is designed to prevent an impact injury, a life jacket can stave off drowning if you fall into the water.  Without one, it’s easy to be pulled down into the churning water.

When it comes to both your helmet and life jacket, make sure the equipment is sized properly and that you’re wearing it the right way.  All straps need to be cinched tight so that they afford the proper protection.

Open up a dialogue with the guide available to lead the trip, especially if you’re new to whitewater rafting.  Hiding the fact that you’re not an expert swimmer is inadvisable.  Let guides know your capabilities so that they can provide advice or otherwise help you stay safe.  You should also listen to the guide’s instructions on how to paddle, where to sit, and what to do in an emergency.

Although you never want your raft to flip, there’s always a chance that it will do so despite your best efforts.  If you’re involved in such a situation, make sure to keep your cool.  Get your bearings and move out from under the raft if it’s flipped on top of you.  If the water is pulling you with it, get on your back with your feet pointed forward so you can see your path.  Your feet will then take the brunt of any damage.

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