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Old 06-04-2008   #21
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 400
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In Wigstons class one thing certainly stuck out to me...

Make sure you know what rescue gear everyone has with them. Before you get on the water have a short talk with the group to confirm ability levels and what gear everyone is carrying.

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Old 06-04-2008   #22
V for Victory
9300ft, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 329
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Originally Posted by Gary E View Post
"Yes, three or more long blasts is "emergency." Otherwise the whistle signals you listed are not the standardized meaning used by swiftwater rescue or raft guides"

Sorry, let me clarify. After you drop that 20ftr, wave your paddle so your friends no it's fine. If they can't see it(which they can't) get out of your boat and hike your ass around and give them a thumbs up. If you can't get up and around, grab your cell and try to call. Glad I got a stamp on the most important signal or I would've thought I was dangerous.


I wasn't trying to imply that you shouldn't be able to come up with your own signals to explain to and use amongst your friends (mind the double negative). I'd never seen those meanings before. That seems like a good system for what you and your friends do. However, most systems out there, one blast means "pay attention." Work it out before hand.

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Old 06-04-2008   #23
Cisco, Utah
Paddling Since: Dawn
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 351
Here's the deal...

If you go backcounty skiing, you should buy a beacon. If you don't know how to use it why bother?

Point is, if you aren't prepared, you are not prepared.

So, how do you prepare?
First you need some training, then you need to practice it. From this you begin to get some experience, and this is where good judgement comes from. Waiting for your first emergency situation to occur is not the best time to start wondering about rescue situations. These posts / threads are all good, but they offer no actual experience. Learn by doing. No substitute for experience. This is how you know your abilities and your limitations.

Best learning I ever got (besides actual situations) has been to set up 'scenarios', and then respond to them. It could take just a small group of paddlers. One or two set up a situation, spend some time responding, then some time talking about what went well, what didn't, what could have worked better, etc. Then head on down stream and one or two others set up a different scenario. This is good learning.
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Old 06-04-2008   #24
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 749
Its a little different in colorado, but we learned in california to always have a way to make fire in case you don't quite make it as far down the river as you had hoped. Fire makes a big difference if you have to spend the night somewhere.
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Old 06-04-2008   #25
Dolores, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 49
Good discussion full of excellent points!

Before you launch have that safety talk, go over what to do, how to do it, and make sure everyone, experienced and newbies understand everything, and everyone knows what the expectations are. It seems silly to a group of experienced folks to do this, but don't assume that everyone will be on the page you are.

If you are going to use signals of any kind be sure that everyone knows them and is consistent. I can't tell you how many times the "eddy out" signal I have used was just stared at by others as they floated on by, even though I assumed it was pretty standard.
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Old 06-04-2008   #26
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 490
Regarding setting safety

You have less than 1 minute to save your buddy's life if he or she can't breath.

Know 1.) where you need to be and 2.) what you need if that situation arises.

I'm always surprised by how "all of a sudden" an accident happens in any sport.

I totally agree with GaryE, too, that swimmers and bad lines deserve a good, solid hazing. This is the positive side of peer pressure. We compliment each other for slick lines, make sure that you tell your friends when they F'd up too so that they think twice before putting themselves and you in danger again.
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Old 06-04-2008   #27
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 63
I agree that this discussion is no substitute for actual experience, but it's great to have these things fresh in your mind. Once in a situation, it's hard to think of what you should do if you haven't already thought about it. Sometimes it's the little things that seem so obvious normally that you don't even consider them in the crisis. In the minutes you have to respond is not the time to think, well if I had... or had done this... or what do I do now? The time wasted to figure out what to do, could be all it takes to turn a situation from a close call to a fatality.

I'm glad we are having this discussion it's a reminder of things forgotten over the winter.
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Old 06-04-2008   #28
boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 32
i haven't gone through every post and perhaps somebody covered some of this already. i witnessed a situation at snaggletooth rapid a few weeks ago that was a good learning experience. after it was all said and done we found that the 2.5 hours we spent there very educational.

1- commercial gear boat came down snag with all 10 peoples gear loaded on it for a multi day trip. guide was not able to make the move and wrapped. lesson- don't overload your boat and run class IV rapids with wrap potential.

2- guide was wearing a pair of shorts and a PFD, no shoes. that river was damn cold and about 1.5 hours after getting wrapped...the guide was taking snapshots of himself being wrapped. hypothermia??? lesson- dress for the occasion.

3- paddle raft guide who was on river right was obviously more concerned about the boat and gear. did not communicate with gear boat guide to put some freaking clothes on. did i mention there was a costumer on the boat at head to toe neoprene? at least he was warm for the 2.5 hours before they put him in the duckie and launched him to safety. lesson- assess the situation. think of the safety of your people first and gear next.

4- automatic throwing of ropes without communication or looking to see if others were coming down the river. i understand wanting to get your boat off the rock asap...but it was noon and about 20 rafts above scouting the run. lesson- communicate your intentions with other boaters on the river.

5- paddle raft guide setting up z-drags with minimal help. when he did get help from what seemed like some experience didn't seem like he was listening. lesson- communicate. listen to voices of reason and those who might have more experience.

6- after hour or so and frustrated scouters on shore...some knuckleheads starting running the rapid...hoping to get left of the boat wrapped and the ropes. i'd say 5 of them BARELY making it, one didn't and somehow made it over top of the ropes. lesson- don't be a dumb a** and be respectful to your friends on the river. or maybe don't become part of the problem!

7- when commercial trip did get the boat off of the rock there was no plan of what to do next. this was actually the best part! this 16' hyside, fully loaded was suspended and submerged directly in front of the snaggletooth rock for what seemed like eternity. it seemed like the obvious decision should have been for the gear boat guide to cut the rope but things worked it's self out. lesson- have an exit strategy.

8- we met up with the group the next day and the gear boat guide asked if we had any extra TP. lesson- double wrap your TP or your clients probably won't tip very well!

i don't mean to slam these guys. they did what they could. nobody got hurt and they got their raft back. thats about all you can ask for. but it was definitely a learning experience on saftey, communication and being thoughtful about the situation you are in.
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Old 06-04-2008   #29
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 451

Bring your boater face . It's ok to yuk it up be keep a serious attitude about what you are doing no matter how easy or familiar the territory. I recently got cavalier because I was in familiar territory. I coupled 2 mistakes close together and it resulted in nasty beat down with my friends chasing gear and me stumbling around on the bank looking like:

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Old 06-04-2008   #30
niwot, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 96
Originally Posted by mania View Post
Okay with all the safety 'buzz' going around I wanted to see if the collective wisdom of buzzards could come up with a top ten ways to improve survival odds on rivers (other than stay home) since that is just bad for everyone involved and for our sport when someone dies. I am hoping these ten ideas would apply to both commercial and private trips and kayaking, canoeing or rafting and even tubing.

Anyway here is a list to get us started.

Mountainbuzz top ten ways to improve your odds on moving water.

1. Wear a properly fit (snug) Personal Floatation Device (PFD) with all buckles buckled when on the water.

2. Active self rescue in the event of a swim, including the use of an aggressive swim towards shore or another boat. Discuss this with all participants! No one may be able to get to you!

3. Dress for a swim. Being too cold to swim can quickly sap your strength.

4. Set proper safety should you choose to run challenging rapids with consequences such as strainers, unfriendly holes, or long swims. Don't hesitate to walk a rapid with such consequences.

5. Avoid alcohol before and while on the water.

6. Wear a properly fit (snug) helmet whenever kayaking or when rafting in difficult whitewater.

7. Know how to throw your rope. Practice practice practice. Don't leave ropes in the riverbed.

8. Wear a knife and whistle.

9. Do not wear non-locking carabiners, loose cords, or anything which can get you hooked on something.

10. Choose an appropriate river and flow for your groups skill and fitness level. Go with a minimum of two to three boats when in remote locations. The strongest boater should go first.

what do you all think? are we missing any biggies or are any of these overstated? I bet some of you might say be trained in first aid or rescue and that is true, but I am just thinking of things that would apply to most everyone on a trip. obviously a commercial customer might not need to know how to throw a throw rope but they should know how to catch one. I think all the other things apply excepting maybe the knife and whistle. I strongly believe commercial customers and private passengers need to be educated on the aggressive swim/self rescue. telling them to hang out with feet first until someone gets them is asking for trouble.
For raft support- Stow your bowline and sternline properly. Ropes kill more boaters than the rapids ever did. A rafter got hung up in the hole at the Golden dam. He got wrapped up in his rope and didn't make it. I did the same thing, but my boat was rigged 'clean'. I exited and swam out. Rope is the most dangerous thing you carry. Pay attention to it. I you can't manage it properly, you would be safer to leave it at home. No BS.

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