Cause of river deaths - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-10-2007   #1
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Cause of river deaths

What are the biggest causes of death on the river?
Arkansas river deaths this year are tied for the record.
I'm not here to exploit anyones death, or cause further hardship to the victims families.

I'm just curious as to what is causing these deaths.
Drowning incidents can happen several ways. In what way are most of these drownings attributed to?
Lack of swimming experience? Having an extremity wedged in between rocks/river features causing the victim to be held down? Trauma to the head causing loss of consciousness leading to drowning?

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Old 07-11-2007   #2
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A typical cause is a flush drowning from a laryngiospasm. all it take is a drop of water to hit the vocal folds causing a natural response of closing them off to restrict the water from entering the lungs. It has probaly happened to everyone, you just have to relax and take a deep breath through your nose. but if your swimming in unfamiliar territory relaxing can be hard causing them to take on more water and going unconcious. It is rare for rafters to have head trauma making them go unconcious.
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Old 07-11-2007   #3
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I appreciate the thoughts. I hate to be morbid, but learning what MAY happen will be the only thing that helps me know what to do if it DOES happen. Be prepared and you won't need it, go unprepared and you will pay.

I read something yesterday that I didn't know about strainers. It was regarding a death up here on the Alberton gorge last year. A woman got thrown in a bid rapid that had a major strainer.

The information recommended swimming FAST toward a strainer, in an effort to "jump" up over it or swim over it. It said the typical river tactic of floating face up, feet downriver would guarantee going under a strainer.

Seems to make good sense. Can't say I'd ever have the wherewithal to do it, but I'd rather know what to do, as long as it is correct.
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Old 07-11-2007   #4
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that aggressive approach to a strainer is only if the strainer cannot be avoided. at all costs stay away from them, but if you going to introduce yourself to one, yes by all means swim hard, fast, and get your self up on it. I would much rather be tangled and breathing, Vs. not.
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Old 07-11-2007   #5
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Yup, I should have clarified that. Stay away at all costs, but if you can't, try to get over it.
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Old 07-11-2007   #6
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The majority of river deaths over the years on the Arkansas have been cardiac related. Falling into a cold, turbulant river causes a major shock to the system - enough to cause cardiac arrythmias. Also seen, but relatively rare are flush drownings and laryngiospasms. However, back east with the warm water, there are more problems with people exploring underwater caves, so actual drownings are relatively more common.

Five deaths on the Ark doesn't come close to tying any record I'm aware of.
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Old 07-11-2007   #7
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looks like the latest death out in Grand Junction was caused by foot entrapment/entanglement or it might have been a strainer situation too. Not sure by the article.

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Old 07-11-2007   #8
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according to 9news last night this years ties the previous records on the arkansas of 5, last time this happened was in 95'. not sure how accurate this is but the news is always correct, right?
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Old 07-11-2007   #9
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I just got finished with my first Swiftwater Rescue class this weekend - I'm in my third year boating.

You just have to have that kind of knowledge if you're going to be on rivers regularly - for your buddies, for yourself, for people on the river the same day as you no matter where they came from.

It was eye-opening how much needs to be considered for a rescue. I'm going to be taking another class just to better indoctrinate my brain into these skills and remember them better.
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Old 07-11-2007   #10
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The cardiac arrest may also be caused by panic. For the non-experienced, falling into rapids and then having trouble breathing in the waves is pretty freaky. Intense panic really stresses the heart. Ever get so scared that you can feel your heart pound in your chest?
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