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White Water Rafting Safety

Floating rivers is an increasingly popular sport full of adventure, thrills and risks. Statistics reveal that accidents associated with swift water sports are on the rise. There were several serious incidents on the Middle Fork and Main Salmon Rivers during the 2003 floating season. Three of them were fatal. "We hope the 2004 season will be accident free" said Bill Runnoe, Main Salmon River Manager. In an attempt to reach this goal, the River Managers have listed a few common sense recommendations to make your river recreation experience a safe one.

  • Properly wear safety gear such as life jackets and helmets at all times.
  • Check water levels the day of your trip to determine the relationship of the water level to the degree of hazard. Low or high water changes the character of rapids and the difficulty and manner in which they should be run. In addition, high water carries debris such as whole trees and logs that can pose serious and unpredictable risks.
  • Rapids are not posted, listen for them, know where they are and scout them prior to running them.
  • Be constantly alert for logs and other debris that may have become lodged in critical passages.
  • Spring and early summer water temperatures are cold and hypothermia can set in rapidly if you are exposed to cold water for even a short period of time.
  • Alcohol and other stimulants impair judgment and motor functions affecting your ability in making quick decisions. Use a designated driver just as you would when driving an automobile. Don't risk your safety and the safety of others.
  • Accidents occur on the river shoreline too. Be cautious when entering and exiting your vessel and wear appropriate footwear.
  • Keep in mind that response time to river rescues can take 12 hours or longer depending on where the incident is located on the rivers.