Whitewater rafting is a fun and invigorating outdoor activity and a great way to enjoy the outdoors no matter what your ability or experience level. Anyone can try it, but there are certain rules and regulations related to safety that you must follow!

Take a look at these safety tips:

Always choose a licensed and professional rafting outfitter

This is a must! Ask questions while shopping for an outfitter – find out how long they have been in business under the current ownership, ask what government entity manages their outfitters permit and training practices, talk about the kind of training their guides have, etc.

Wear a life jacket and protective gear

Putting on a life jacket isn’t enough – it will only be able to save your life if it is worn correctly. All buckles must be clipped and the jacket should be fitted snug to your body. Basically, the jacket should be fitted so you can breathe, yet it can’t be pulled up over the head. Your guide should help you wear the jacket for a perfect fit. Wearing a helmet is necessary regardless of the level of rafting you are participating in.

Familiarize yourself with swimming techniques

When swimming in the river, whether you fall out or you jump in for fun, there are two methods.  The first is the “Down River Swimmers Position”.  This is on your back, nose and toes to the sky with your head up so you can see where you are going. Feet down stream with your knees slightly bent.  The feet and legs act as shock absorbers if you come in contact with a rock. The second swimmers position is becoming more popular and more excepted in rescue situations.  This position is on your stomach, pointing to where you wish to go, and then moving towards it. Swim until you are out of the river.  Again your guide will explain when it is best to use which swimming position. Never try to stand up in moving current!

Make sure you hold the paddle properly

Holding the paddle in the right way can be a huge safety concern.  One hand should be at the base of the paddle on the shaft.  The other hand needs to be at the end of the shaft over the T-shaped grip.  This grip is made of hard plastic so it can give you back eyes and knock out some teeth too.  Keeping your hand over the grip will keep control of the paddle and cushion the blow if it should happen.  Ask your professional commercial guide for the correct technique.

Rest assured, your guide will give a thorough safety talk before the whitewater rafting trip, so listen to it carefully and ask questions if you don’t understand. They are happy to explain more than once and clarify any doubts. Read up on the safety aspects prior to the trip so you are well prepared. Remember, not to panic under any circumstances – it won’t be of any use; rely on your guide as they won’t let any harm come to you!