143035_DBW Course_r3

Chapter 3 X Vessel Operation

General Safety Guidelines for Whitewater Paddling


If you are a beginner, always go with a guide or experienced leader who is familiar with the river. Before You Put In ƒ Check weather and river conditions. Consult the radio, newspaper, Internet or local authorities. ƒ Check that you boat with one or more partners to make your trip safer. For a whitewater run, you should have at least three boats in a party to be safe. ƒ Check the boat or raft to make sure it is made well with strong materials. ƒ Check the river course. Be familiar with the river’s features before starting out, or hire a river guide who knows the run, its classification and its special hazards. ƒ Check to make sure everyone is wearing a properly fitted, Coast Guard approved life jacket. Attach a whistle to each one. ƒ Check to make sure you know how to “Eskimo roll,” or escape for self rescue, if you’re using a kayak or closed-deck canoe. ƒ Check to make sure you have a realistic view of your boating skills. Good river skills take time and practice to learn. Overconfidence or overestimat ing your ability can quickly get you into trouble. ƒ Check your float plan. Be sure it lists the correct put-in and take-out locations. Give your float plan to a friend or relative, and let him or her know when you have returned. At The Put-In ƒ Check the equipment. Secure all ropes and other gear so they do not get in the way of paddling. Securing ropes and gear is also important so that they will not get tangled in brush or trees, or entangle a swimmer if the boat overturns. ƒ Check to see if you have—and know how to use—safety gear such as throw bags. ƒ Check to see if you have a first aid kit, extra clothing, drinking water and high-energy snacks. ƒ Check to make sure everyone on the water knows basic verbal and hand signals. These commands include paddle commands, signals for hazards, emergencies, course direction and for general communication. (See page 109.)

f Never boat alone. Make sure at least one experienced person is along. f Drink plenty of water, not alcohol or other diuretics like caffeinated sodas or coffee that can make you urinate. f Never wear baggy clothes, which tend to get caught on things. f Never wear cotton, which holds water and makes you cold. f Never tie yourself or others into the craft.

WEBSITE To check for river flows for many California rivers, visit dbw.parks.ca.gov/RiverFlow


California Course for Safe Boating

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