Top Ten ways to improve the odds on rivers - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 06-03-2008   #1
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Top Ten ways to improve the odds on rivers

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.

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Old 06-03-2008   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mania View Post
3. Dress for a swim. Being too cold to swim can quickly sap your strength.
And if you don't plan on swimming, dress warm enough to be effective if you happen to be called upon to rescue somebody else. You might need to stand in that water so save someones life. Wear shoes for the same reason.
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Old 06-03-2008   #3
 
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in terms of throw ropes:

-be sure to unpack them and repack them before a trip. i've seen lazy guides back east through birds nests about 5 feet short of swimmers because they hadn't repacked their bag in a few weeks.

-also be sure to yell so that the swimmer (and others on shore who may have ropes) knows there is a rope coming at them. again, while guiding last summer i saw three ropes all get tossed one after another, the swimmer managed to get her neck between all three and couldn't get free. luckily i was also swimming and was in a place i knew to be safe to stand, and was able to untangle her and pull her to shore. if each safety person had yelled then the others would not have thrown, and the situation never would have happened.

-have someone there to help anchor you for when the swimmer tensions the line. no matter how strong you are the odds are way against you, but simply having someone behind you to grab the back of your PFD can make a huge difference. I pulled a 14foot raft of new yorkers in this way since they decided to blow past the take out (no guide in the boat).
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Old 06-03-2008   #4
 
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I think in the same line as setting safety should be scouting. In that same vein, you should probably gather information from a guide book / buzz on hazards and such that could cause issue or need for scouting / safety.
I know this is implied, but not specifically stated.

Perhaps something about communication.
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Old 06-03-2008   #5
 
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I've got a couple. Check out the Accident on the Ark post for my discussion on CPR. Make sure you and your friends know it. Carry a pocket mask in your boat - it's more effective, weighs nothing, and keeps your friends from puking on you.

I have to second that you need to carry a whistle. A friend pinned on sunday under a log. He couldn't get to his spray skirt and we had just watched him stomp V+, so no one was watching him in the run-out where he pinned. As we prepared to run the rapid we heard the three whistle blasts of an emergency. I ran back downstream and saw him. He was on river right and I was on river left. Fortunately, another paddler had already portaged his boat around the rapid, so I jumped in and paddled to river right. However, I have a full face helmet which everyone knows is a pain the the ass to wear while scouting and portaging. I had left it in my boat at the top of the rapid and ended up running class IV mank in a friend's boat down to the pinned boater without my helmet. Once I got onto the log, things went well, but necessitated being in the icy water for approximately 5 minutes - thank god for my drysuit (Kokatat specifically). Long story short, every one is ok.

Lessons learned:
1. Have a whistle near your mouth at all times - it might save your life one day.
2. More and more people are wearing full face helmets and we're all wandering around the banks without them on. I know it's a pain, but I'll never leave my boat without mine again.
3. As someone said above, dress to help other people. I definitely could have swam that day, but even on easy days, dress to stay in the water if someone else has problems. Drysuits are amazingly warmer than any layering system I've used.
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Old 06-03-2008   #6
 
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1-Go to the rec center and swim laps. Get used to being deprived of oxygen while being physical. Get in shape!

2-dress warm, a swim/pin puts you in deep water in a hurry. Buy my new dry suit at confluence, so I can get a larger one.

3-pin kits/ ropes know how to get to, and use in 30/60 secs. This includes z set up

4-PFD is number 2/3 on list

5-whistle is key. One blow, drop good to go- two blow, not good- three, come get my ass.

6-know your signals

7-know what your friends are willing to do and not do for you. Then make decisions based on your ability and the groups ability.

8-paddle where you can breathe

9-throw your rope at friends that swam; All day, on and off the water

10-don't be afraid to give'r just cause you might swim if the swim is safe.

11-no crying or jack in the boxing, on the river.

12- always buy your buddies dinner if they save your sorry drowning ass. (thx J rod, Gleason and Simo)

thats my 2 cents
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Old 06-03-2008   #7
 
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  1. When about to toss a rope, get eye contact with the swimmer if possible. Yell, or blow your whistle to help get their eye contact
  2. Go after the swimmer first, make sure that they are safe before going for equipment
  3. Don't compound a situation. Don't turn a situation involving one person needing help into two.
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Old 06-04-2008   #8
 
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Also be aware of changes in the river through out the day, especially if you are unfamiliar with the stretch you are on.

That's prolly the biggest contributing mistake to my wrap, well besides hitting a shit pole. I noticed the water got really muddy the last hour or so. I even commented to my friend about how muddy the water was getting, but it didn't register that the flow was rapidly increasing - due to being on the Colorado (always muddy) the day before, beginning of the season, almost to take out, and that was only the second time I'd been on the Eagle. If it was the Poudre, muddy water would have sent red flags up and I would have adjusted to uncertain increase of flow.
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Old 06-04-2008   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mania View Post
9. Do not wear non-locking carabiners, loose cords, or anything which can get you hooked on something.
Non-locking caribiners? I see a lot of people who have those on their rescue rigs... is this really a no-no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary E View Post
5-whistle is key. One blow, drop good to go- two blow, not good- three, come get my ass.

6-know your signals
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.
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Old 06-04-2008   #10
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Non-locking caribiners? I see a lot of people who have those on their rescue rigs... is this really a no-no?
Brad H told me he witnessed a guide clip himself to a boat with head underwater (it resolved somehow to a happy ending). Mike Mather gave a similar story at my recent swiftwater recert and he insisted on only locking carabiners for everyone in the class and even on water bottles in a boat.

so yeah I would say its a very common mistake that although unlikely could certainly kill someone.
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