Personal Safety

River Rafting Survival Tips



Feature | River Rafting Survival Tips | river rafting in california

When going for a swim doesn’t satisfy your appetite for a thrilling adventure, then take it up a notch and go river rafting! While it is an adrenaline-pumping activity, especially in such an intense environment, you have to make sure you’re ready for the worst!

River Rafting: Stay Safe from the Rushing Rapids

Perhaps one of the coolest and most exciting outdoor activities you can experience is river rafting. The rush that the rapids provide is absolutely exhilarating. However, because rafting is an extreme activity, you need to be safe at all costs and prepare for the worst that can happen. Don’t let your unpreparedness ruin what could have been the ride of your life. Below are river rafting survival tips you need to know and follow before the raging waves hammer you.

1. Do Not Remove Your Life Jacket

Even though you can swim like Michael Phelps and you feel like you’re a half-man, half-fish, it is still best to always keep your life jacket on. Make sure it is tight and completely buckled every time.

Do Not Remove Your Life Jacket | River Rafting Survival Tips To Prepare For The Worst | river rafting in california

In the event you fall into the water, the life jacket will keep you afloat, thus making it easier for your guide and your friends to pull you back in.

2. Keep Your Helmet On

Keep Your Helmet on | River Rafting Survival Tips To Prepare For The Worst | river rafting in california
Others might think wearing a helmet is for wimps, but you have to remember your skull is not made of the hardest steel. Always wear your helmet — no matter what the rapid class you’re in. Regardless of whether you consider it fashionable, you have to remember safety first.

3. Use the Paddle the Right Way

Hold your paddle properly. One hand should be on the base of the shaft while the other one is always on the “T” grip. If you’re not holding your paddle the right way, you might accidentally hit someone in the head.

Use the Paddle the Right Way | River Rafting Survival Tips To Prepare For The Worst | river rafting in california

Additionally, keep in mind you should be continuously paddling. Moreover, it will be easier for you to navigate the raft if you follow instructions from your group’s leader. If they tell you to stop, you have to stop, if they tell you to continue, then go on. It is important to follow the commands of your guide, as everyone in the raft needs to paddle in unison.

4. Choose Your Rapid Class

We all want to have the ride of our lives, but you have to choose the suitable rapid class for your skill level. Whenever you go rafting, it’s best to know what to expect from the river. Rapids are rated on a scale of I to VI. Below are the different classes of rapids you need to know before hopping on your raft:

 Choose Your Rapid Class | River Rafting Survival Tips To Prepare For The Worst | river rafting in california

  • Class I — Beginner level. The water is easy, mild with few riffles and waves. There is little to no obstructions at all.
  • Class II — Easy rapids with small waves. It has clear and open passages between the rocks, and therefore requires a little bit of maneuvering.
  • Class III — Moderately difficult. It has rapids with high and irregular waves and narrow passages. It will require experience to maneuver.
  • Class IV — Long, difficult and powerful rapids with tight passages. It will require precise and complex maneuvering. Scouting is important to determine its course.
  • Class V — Extremely difficult. It has long and violent rapids without interruption. The river is full of obstructions with big drops and powerful currents.
  • Class VI — Extraordinarily difficult. This level is very dangerous and life-threatening, so leave it to the experts.

5. Know What to do When You Fall

Know What to Do When You Fall | River Rafting Survival Tips To Prepare For The Worst | river rafting in california
The first thing you need to do when you fall is to not panic. It’s just a waste of time and energy — although cursing is permissible in this situation! If you fall, you need to hold onto the outside safety line until someone helps you back in. If you can’t grab the safety line, you need to know the proper swimming techniques and look for someone to hand you a paddle or a throw bag. Otherwise, swim back to the shore if you can.

6. Follow Your Guide

Follow Your Guide | River Rafting Survival Tips To Prepare For The Worst | river rafting in california
Always listen and follow your guide. There are few basic set of commands you have to adhere to and pay extra attention to during the safety briefing. Don’t be an eager beaver or a Mr. Know-It-all, because you’ll endanger yourself and others. This is not the right time to act dumb or show-off. The rampaging rapids are no joke, but when you survive them, you’ll feel accomplished and exhilarated.

7. Go with the Best Outfitters

Go with the Best Outfitters | River Rafting Survival Tips To Prepare For The Worst | river rafting in california
One of the best pieces of safety advice you can get is to find the best professional rafting outfitter. They offer professional guides and high-quality equipment to make your rafting trip safer and more enjoyable. Ask them questions like how long have they been in the business and what kind of training their guides have. Through this, you’ll know if you can trust them, or if you have to look for other outfitters.

Looking for more river rafting tips? Watch this video from ACE YouTube and find out the things you need to know for a safer ride!

River rafting is one of the most adventurous ways of exploring nature. As you delve into the depths of river water, you will experience an adrenaline rush like no other. However, along with the excitement are the risks the sport carries. There could be instances you might fall off the raft and be caught up in a life-threatening situation. Therefore, it is very important you know valuable survival tips before riding. Follow every instruction your guide will tell you, and you’ll have the time of your life. Stay safe!

Do you know other river rafting survival tips? Share them with us in the comments below! 

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***Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.***

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 3, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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  1. Schiro Ackermann

    May 1, 2018 at 11:06 PM

    A friend of mine has asked me recently if I want to join him when he goes rafting, and of course, I did not decline his offer. It was good that I came across this article and learned that when it comes to choosing a rafting class, it is best to choose one that is appropriate for my experience and skill. I guess I will be in a different class as him since I am a beginner. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Lillian Schaeffer

    May 14, 2018 at 10:22 AM

    Thanks for your suggestion to always keep your life jacket on, no matter how confident you are in your swimming abilities. My family has been talking about going on a river rafting trip, and I’m really excited to try it for the first time. I’m on the swim team at school, so I have really good swimming skills, but I’ll definitely take your advice and keep my life jacket on at all times anyway. Better safe than sorry!

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