When getting ready to schedule your next float trip, be sure to use the following safety guidelines to help ensure a safe and enjoyable excursion:
• Know the waters to be paddled. River and coastal guide books and topographic maps are valuable references in trip planning. Plan alternate routes.
• Set-up a shuttle. Calculate the distance and time. Consider stops and a lunch break, along with put-in and take-out locations
• Equipment — What you take with you on a trip is all that you have to survive and rescue yourself. This includes water, food, maps and charts, rescue equipment and extra clothes.
• File a float plan with someone who will notify others if you don’t return on time.
• Paddle within your, and your group’s, abilities and limits.
On Water Behavior and Etiquette
• Be a competent swimmer with the ability to handle oneself underwater, on moving water, and in surf or current.
• Have a properly fitted lifejacket (Personal Flotation Device – PFD), and WEAR IT!
• Keep the craft under control. Do not enter a rapid unless reasonably sure you can navigate it or swim the entire rapid in case you capsize.
• Keep a lookout for hazards and avoid them.
• Know your emotional and physical limitations.
• Group members need to constantly assess the behavior of others in their group.
• Respect the rights of anglers and land owners when paddling.
Know the Conditions For Flatwater
• Remember to watch for water and weather changes — beware of fog.
• Keep an eye out for other boat traffic.
• Pay attention to all safety warnings.
• Be sure you are visible.
For Whitewater and Rivers
• Stay on the inside of bends — beware of strainers! Strainers are fallen trees, bridge pilings, undercut rocks or anything else that allows the current to flow through it while holding you. Strainers are deadly.
• Walk around low-head dams.
• Watch for and avoid hydraulics (water recirculating back on itself).
• If in doubt, get out and scout!
For Coastal Areas
• Stay close to shore.
• As you travel away from shelter, make sure you have the necessary skills to travel back.
• Watch conditions for winds and fog.
• Understand wave height, wind speed (Beaufort Scale), fetch and how it will impact your travel.
• Stay aware of all boat traffic and traffic patterns.
• Learn re-entry techniques BEFORE you need them, know how to re-enter your boat and how to assist others back into their craft.
• Stay apprised of tidal currents and their affects on you and your boat.
• Watch for landing in surf or passing through the surf zone to shore.