White water rafting safety tips: required safety gear and tipsWhitewater rafting is a fun sport for people of all ages. Safety gear keeps you and your friends safe as you paddle down the rapids during this increasingly popular activity.
Paddling through rapids with new and old friends is a great way to spend a sunny morning or afternoon. However, whitewater rafting is a sport that is inherently dangerous. Since there is no single, federal agency that oversees safety, it is up to you and the tour company with which you raft to ensure your trip is a safe one.
Following a few safety tips helps your trip be one in which you create happy memories and escape injuries.
What you can do:
1. Select a reputable rafting company - Most rafting companies will list their safety record on their Web sites and/or in their literature. If you have any questions about a company?s safety record, check with owner of the company, the local authorities who would have such statistics, or find another company with which to raft.
2. Safety gear check: Most tour companies will give you the safety gear you need and would want, but it always is a good idea to check ahead of time. Additionally, it is smart to find out about the training the guides have, as well as what additional safety equipment they will have with them during your trip.
3. Wear a Coast Guard Approved life jacket - life jackets keep you afloat should you be thrown out of the raft as you paddle over rapids. Make sure that you select and wear a jacket that fits properly. The jacket should be snug, but not tight. A proper fit ensures that the jacket will not slide up over your head when you are in the water.
4. Protect your head - while not always required, wearing a helmet could be the difference between life and death if you are tossed out of the raft and hit your head on a rock. Helmets should sit taut on your head, be comfortable, and not slide back on your head or forward onto your face when pushed.
5. Cover your feet - Old sandals or tennis shoes are essential for a safe rafting trip. When you are out of the raft, you will need to walk in water underneath which may lie sharp stones, shells, or other potentially dangerous objects. You will want to have shoes you can get wet in order to protect your feet from cuts and scratches.
6. Drink plenty of liquids - Whitewater rafting is very fun and you may not even realize how much work it is. Combine the amount of exertion with the time you spend out in the sun and your body can become dehydrated very quickly. Be sure to carry along more water than you think you will need and to drink often (before you even are aware that you are thirsty). This will keep you healthy and feeling good throughout the trip and afterwards.
** Learn about your tour guides before the trip. Find out what kind of training your guides have and what types of equipment they take with them on trips.
1. Most tour companies give guides waterproof two-way radios so that help can be called in an emergency.
2. Guides often will take weather radios with them in order to listen in should the skies become threatening.
3. Guides should be trained in making emergency rescues when participants are thrown from the boat into the water.
4. First Aid training is a must for any tour guide. Some guides may have more extensive training and be classified as outdoor emergency care technicians ? something that allows them to treat more serious injuries that can occur out on the water.