Safety Equipment for Whitewater Canoeing|
13 Essential Pieces
Risk management while canoeing comes down to knowing
your own skill level and that of your group; assessing the
objective hazards-weather conditions and the difficulty of your
route; and the quality of your group's equipment. Your bet can
be hedged for the latter by bringing the right equipment every
time you're on the water and knowing how to use it. Following is
a list of essential safety equipment.
Type III PFD
Lifejackets come in different buoyancy weights, some as
high as 24 lbs. and some as low as 14 lbs. Choose a high float
for better buoyancy.
Float bags make self-rescue easier by increasing the
buoyancy--and hence, maneuverability--of your canoe. Carry
as much flotation in your whitewater canoe as possible. Careful
outfitting of the float bag cage is also important so the flotation
doesn't create entanglement possibilities or come out when you
really need it.
Make sure your helmet is functional first and a fashion
First aid kit
Make sure your first aid kit has all the essentials for
treating everything from heavy bleeding to broken bones. Also,
carry a rescue-breathing mask in case the need for CPR arises.
Even more important is the knowledge to use this stuff-take a
Wilderness First Responder class.
For our canoe school, we use throw bags with at least 60
feet of line. Spectra cord is the strongest. Throw bags only work
well in the hands of an experienced user--so practice using it
before you take to the river.
Open-toed sandals are the rage these days, but wear a
river shoe that protects the whole foot from rocks, logs and
other objects often encountered while canoeing.
If you lose or break a paddle and are in a remote canyon
20 miles from the take-out you could be in serious trouble
without a spare. Bring one always, and make sure it's easy to
reach in an emergency.
Dehydration is a serious condition. Always carry water
and/or water filters for you and your group.
In many places you need to bail before the next drop but
there isn't a place to drain your boat. That is when that old
orange juice container or milk jug comes in handy. Bring a
bailer on every trip.
If you've ever been in a situation where you needed to
pull a broached boat off the rocks, you know the value of a
pulley sized to work with your throw rope. When rigged
correctly, each pulley halves the effort when rigged for pulling
(one pulley gives a 2-to-1 advantage, two pulleys provides a 4-
to-1 advantage, etc.).
Dry suit or top
Hypothermia is a river runner's worst enemy. Cold
water and cool air are the perfect recipes for this condition. A
dry suit or top is essential if you want to paddle in early and late
season. Breathable fabrics like Gore-tex work far better than
simple coated nylon, in which perspiration will defeat the suit's
Floating painter lines
Painter lines on the fore and aft decks are excellent for
lining and tracking, and are essential in self-rescue situations.
Make sure your canoe has them on both bow and stern.
You never know when your boat will get damaged. To
fix most things that might arise on the water, we keep wire, duct
tape and a float bag repair kit with our first aid kit in a dry bag.
Doug Wipper, a former director of the National
Canoeing Schools of Canada, is the director of the
Steamboat Springs Canoeing School in Steamboat Springs,
Colo. He has instructed for universities and private camps
for more than 30 years.Contributed By: Douglas Whipper
Adventures "The Steamboat Springs Canoe School specializes in
whitewater canoeing. CCA provides highly personalized instruction & trips
for beginners to experts. Certified instructional guides will be your paddling
companions in tandem camp; solo canoeing adventures".