White water rafting is a safe sport, as long as you follow the rules. Statistically speaking, commercially guided river rafting trips are safer than many other sporting activities including bicycling, rock climbing, scuba diving, and even swimming at your local swimming pool. Of course, your chances of encountering an incident are reduced even more by following a few common-sense safety tips:
Most of the accidents on white water rafting trips occur on non-guided trips. Because a rafter had a pre-existing heart condition or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, this made an already unsafe situation even worse. If you have heart problems or other health condition, such as a bad back or neck, you may want to stick to other activities on your trip. Fishing or camping on the Ocoee River banks are fun, low-risk activities that the whole family can enjoy. In fact, white water river rafting only utilizes about 10% of the Ocoee River.
Similarly, leave the alcohol and drugs behind. You should never, ever go white water rafting on the Ocoee River while drunk or high. Not only can you put your life at risk, but you can also put others’ lives at risk.
While you can pretty much wear anything you want, you will need shoes (not sandals or flip flops). It’s not uncommon for a stray sandal to distract a rafter in rough waters. You will also need protection from the sun, including sunglasses and sunscreen. Nothing can ruin your trip more thoroughly than severe sunburn. Eat a healthy breakfast and drink water before you leave so you don’t run out of energy or become dehydrated during the trip.
Wear Safety Equipment
Guided Ocoee River rafting trips include safety equipment. For example, you will be required to use life jackets. In the unlikely event that you go into the river, a life jacket will keep you afloat long enough to get you back into the raft. You will also be required to wear a helmet to protect your head if you go overboard.
You will receive instructions on how to wear your life jacket and helmet before you enter the raft. If either your jacket or helmet is uncomfortable or does not feel like it fits, point that out to your guide before you enter the raft, so he or she can adjust your equipment or find better options.
Listen to the Safety Instructions
In addition to being fitted for safety equipment, you will also receive brief directions on safety procedures. Specifically, you will need to know what you should do if you fall out of the raft or if someone else falls out of the raft.
When you get into the raft, take note of the outside line (or OS line) and the throwbag worn by the guide. You should be aware of where these are in the event that they are needed.
Follow the Guide’s Directions
Before you hit any rapids, your guide will teach you the basics of how to paddle the raft, including how to hold the paddle and how to sit so you don’t fall out. Holding the paddle incorrectly could result in the paddle being knocked out of your grip. Moreover, sitting correctly in the raft will keep you in a safe position where you can see the river and the rapids. This will make you far less likely to accidentally fall into the river.
Your guide will also give you a rundown of the voice commands they will use. Your guide knows the river and how to navigate it safely so it’s essential you follow their directions. You and your fellow paddlers need to work as a team to traverse the rapids safely.
Stay In the Raft
As much as you may want to dive into the river during your Ocoee River white water rafting trip, stay in the raft unless your guide informs you otherwise. If you accidentally fall into the river, do not panic. Be sure to follow the safety instructions, rely on your safety equipment, and listen for the guide’s voice commands to stay safe.
White water rafting can be a unique experience that is both fun and fulfilling. It can also be one of the safest forms of recreation if you follow a few simple and easy safety tips. When you’re ready to try white water rafting, rely on Outland Expeditions for safe trips the whole family can enjoy.