Download a brochure about white water safety
Download a brochure for new paddlecraft owners
Follow these guidelines to make your trip safe and fun:
Pick an appropriate stretch of river
Match your skills and experience to the class of river using the Scale of Difficulty. The Scale of Difficulty rates a rapid by the level of skill needed to navigate its obstacles and to survive an accidental swim.
Dress for an unexpected swim!
Cold water can rob you of your strength, impair your ability to swim and cause hypothermia. Wear a wetsuit, drysuit, nylon or fleece layers — never cotton!
Use proper equipment
- Coast Guard approved white water life jacket (Type 3 or 5).
- Cold water protective clothing (never cotton) and protective footwear
- Throw rope, whistle, knife
Keep your group close together
- Prepare a float plan and rescue strategy
- Remember: the safety of your group is only as strong as your least experienced member
Recognize and avoid hazards
- Look for fallen trees, low hanging branches
- Rocks and undercuts
- Powerful water hydraulics
Swim aggressively or defensively
- Away from hazards, toward calm water, shore or raft
- Avoid undercut banks and rocks
- Point feet up and pointed downstreams
- Use arms to maneuver
- Don’t stand up! Fast water can entrap your foot, between rocks, push you over and pin you under the surface.
- If spilled, check your partner, get upstream and swim to safest shore
- Leave the boat only when it will improve your personal safety
- If rescue isn’t likely, if the water is numbing cold or if a worse set of rapids is approaching, swim to the safest shore.
Idaho, the “whitewater state”, is a river-runner’s dream. But there are risks associated with whitewater paddling.