Whitewater Rafting Safety Tips: Here’s What You Should Do


Whitewater rafting is thrilling! It is one of the best water activities for those who would like to put their adrenaline into the test. However, it can also be unsafe. Injuries and deaths are possible, especially if you go unprepared.

If you are planning a trip to brave the rapids, keep on reading and learn from the whitewater safety tips we’ll be talking about. You can be confident that you will have a seamless experience and that there is a minimal chance of ending up with a serious injury.

1. Stay Close to Other Rafts

It is best to do rafting with other groups. Meaning, there should be other rafts. Stay close to the others, but make sure that you are not too close as this can increase the chances of a collision. The good thing about having other rafters around is that rescue will be immediately available. Whenever you need a helping hand, there is someone nearby to get you out of the water when the kayak flips. When there is no one around, your group can end up being stranded for days when you are unable to successfully get back on the raft.

2. Choose the Right Outfitter

You might end up being overwhelmed when you are somewhere new and you have no idea of who to trust. Choosing a rafting outfitter can be a challenge. With too many options, go beyond their prices when making a decision. Start by conducting online research. Read reviews and learn from the real-life experiences of other people to narrow down your choices. See to it that the operator has the necessary licenses and permits. Work only with the pros.

3. Wear a Lifejacket

A life vest should be non-negotiable for anyone who intends to do whitewater rafting. Even if you are a professional swimmer, wearing a flotation device is mandatory. Even for experienced guides, this is a must-have. Find a jacket with the right fit. See to it that all the buckles are set. Do not make it too tight as you will have difficulty moving. This will restrict your paddling motions. Visibility is also an important consideration for the life jacket, making it easier for your group to be found when there is a need to be rescued.

4. Wear a Helmet

Aside from a life jacket, a helmet is another crucial safety gear that you should have as soon as you get into the raft. Whitewater rafting can be a rough experience. It is not uncommon for the raft to flip. There is a chance that you will hit your head in rocks, especially in shallow parts. With this, your best line of defense is the helmet. It should be made of high-quality material that can withstand force. In the same way, it should also be lightweight and ventilated for your comfort. It should have adjustable chin straps so that you can customize the fit. A secure closure is also important to make sure that it stays on your head.

5. Be Informed

Before you start whitewater rafting, chances are, the operator will have a quick briefing. Listen carefully and follow their instructions religiously. If you want to demonstrate better preparedness, research beforehand and know what to do when you are on the water. First, do not panic. If you start panicking, your train of thought will be affected, and you will end up clueless about what to do next. There is an outside safety line and you should wait for your companion to assist you to the line. In some cases, there is also a throw bag that can help in the rescue.

6. Dress Appropriately

From head to toe, make sure that you are wearing the prescribed clothing. Often, the operator will provide the helmet and the life jacket. For everything else, you will have them on your own. Prepare yourself for the cold, especially once you are submerged in the water. Choose clothes that will add a layer of warmth so that you won’t end up freezing.

7. Hold the Paddle Properly

One thing that every novice should learn is how to properly hold the paddle. This will be explained by the guide beforehand. You must maintain a strong grip on the paddle. It is recommended that you hold it using the T-grip, which will maximize power without exerting too much pressure in your hand. Paddle in such a way that you won’t hit other people in the raft, regardless of how intense your movements are.

8. Know the River Classifications

By being armed with the right knowledge before getting into the raft, you are preparing yourself with what to expect. You can also gauge the situation and decide if you can handle it or if you should skip the fun. With this, you should know the classification of the river where you will go rafting. They are classified from I to VI. If it is your first time to go rafting, do not go beyond III. Consider your physical strength and experience when choosing a river. Otherwise, you will end up compromising your safety.

9. Apply Sunscreen

This is one of the basic safety tips that most people tend to ignore. Even when the sun is not out, such as when it is an overcast, this is not an excuse to let go of the sunscreen. The invisible rays of the sun can contribute to long-term skin damage. The effects may not be immediately apparent after the rafting trip, but it can be serious in the long-term.

10. Listen to Your Guide

There is a reason why you are rafting with an experienced guide instead of doing it alone. You will benefit from their whitewater rafting experience and knowledge, especially if you are in unfamiliar territory. Follow what they say at all times. They know better. Do not go against their instructions. After all, they want nothing but the best for your safety since they will be liable if anything bad happens to the people in the raft they are overseeing.


Whitewater rafting may be fun, but it can quickly turn into a nightmare once you are involved in an accident. Things can happen pretty quickly, and before you even know it, you may already be badly injured. Take note of the things discussed above to prevent this from happening. From choosing the right outfitter to wearing the right safety gear, these things will help make sure that you will stay safe and sound.

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