What safety gear do you carry on your person? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-06-2005   #1
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 82
What safety gear do you carry on your person?

Given the recent discussions about safety, I was wondering what safety gear everyone carries on their person when creekin' or running harder water. In my boat, I carry a pin kit, first aid kit, break down paddle, and a 70 foot spectra rope. On my person, I carry a 50 foot 1/4" spectra throw bag in the front of my Astral rescue PFD, and a couple of biners. Much more and I can't lean forward enough to have a solid roll and to protect my face when I flip.

I'd like to carry a longer, thicker throw bag on me such as Mongo Products Guide Bag, but I'm afraid of getting pushed to the back deck on a drop and bending my back over a throw bag. I'd also like to carry a loop of webbing just the right length for a sit-in harness incase of a vertical rescue or to make a loop around a vitcim's hand for a tag line. Problem is that the length that I need for a harness won't fit all the way around my waist. I guess I could put in in my "beam bag", but I'd like to have it on me. Another thing that I could easily add to my PFD would be a breathing barrier, though not having one wouldn't stop me from performing CPR on buddy. My goal here is to have as much stuff ready at hand to act quickly in the event of a rescue, yet not sink like a rock if I go for a swim.

So, my question to everyone is what do you carry on your person and why?

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Old 06-06-2005   #2
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zbaird's Avatar
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,241
all the time now in my pfd i have one car key one knike with sheeps foot blade 2 biners ( 1 locking 1 not) and 2 prussiks. i also wear a loop of webbing that goes double around my waist and is snugged tight, sometimes too tight, when wet, with a third biner (locking).

my pfd claims 17 lbs. floatation. not sure if they factor in the rescue apparatus. then i add what has got to be well over a pound. i am not at all happy with the floatation while in aerated water. not sure how much a highr float vest helps in that situation as i havent been recirced in my raft vest yet. i too wonder if i am carrying too much.

with this all i need is rope to set up several applications. most everyone has a rope and if i have my boat i do too. i sometimes think i should have a waist bag. i probably would have one if i boated many small creeks. i try to bring a real bag with me on up/down river hikes and when scouting but dont always remember.

the webbing is about 10.5 feet when untied, but i am pretty skinny. it serves as an anchor, a flip line, short line to a swimmer, sling ( for arm or carrying) ,harness, clothesline and whatever else might call for a 10 foot line. again, this line is tight as comfortably possible to reduce entanglement factor.
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Old 06-06-2005   #3
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,107
Interesting thoughts on gear "you" carry

A buddy of mine just got back from Cali and had a pretty harrowing tale. He eddied out above a hard drop on a section of the north fork of the american at a pretty stout water level. Small eddy and steep canyon walls made it difficult to get the boat out of the water. Boater #2 held on to the boat with one end wedged on some rocks, but lost his grip, and the boat went on downstream with safety gear and all. They ended up ditching the other boat and hiking out, but had very little in the way of supplies. They had the other guys safety gear, but my buddies thought was that what if he lost his boat, and got separated from friends. He thought that have a little space blanket, lighter, and some food in his PFD pocket would be helpful.
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Old 06-06-2005   #4
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 58
Being relatively new to the sport (2nd season) my opinion will probably not offer any helpfull information to advanced boaters. It seems that the advanced boaters have a good working knowledge of the basic safety information, equipment and procedures. However, many new boaters do not (myself included).

I would like to share my experiences and thoughts in regards to safety equipment and whitewater. When I started out in the sport my only focus was to get my roll down. I thought "If I can roll, I will always be OK". As soon as I was confident with my roll I headed out and got on the river. Yes, I am better off because I knew how to roll but I also sustained a few minor injuries, a concusion and one significant neck injury which forced me to wade across the Poudre while trying to hold my own c-spine. I didn't swim but parked boat on an island forcing me to wade across the water. I risked a lot by doing so but I didn't think there was another way to get off the river. Fortunately I made it out without creating any further damage.

I am an accomplished climber a firefighter and a paramdedic but I had no real knowledge of safety equipment or rescue operations in whitewater. I did have a throw bag but never considered using for anything other than throwing it out to a swimmer. Heck it was only 5-6mm polyline. The extent of my river rescue knowledge came from Nealy's book. No practical knowledge and no body to around to teach me what I should have known.

YES I did continually see the recomendations to take a Swiftwater Rescue Course and this spring I did exactly that. It was a great course and I learned a lot. I feel quite confident with the knowledge I have received and I continue to practice the skills. However this knowledge has raised a serious question; If its me in need of rescue are my boating partners going to be able to help me?

So now each time I go boating with someone new I ask them the same question you just asked "What safety equipment do you carry with you?". More often that not, they have no equipment. I also hear "we are only on class III/III+ water, you dont need any of that equipment". Perhaps I am a bit too safety conscientuos but I think that answer is wrong. Injuries happen in all levels of whitewater. Perhaps the safety equipment used on class V water could make the difference whether you live or die but the same equipment can also make a difference on easier water. You may eliminate the need to walk several miles to a bridge to get on the correct side of the class III run. Or maybe prevent you from becoming a victim of a foot entrapment while crossing, once that happens you will definelty wish one of your party had a rope and some knowledge. The possible scenarios are endless.

Having the proper equipment and knowledge could certainly make your day on the river better. Even if you do not know what to do with a throw bag, you should still have one. Someone else may be there and need an extra length of rope or they may be able to tell you what to do with it. So go get a throw bag and have someone teach you how to use it, on both ends. I am not advocating attempting to use the equipment without the proper training. Get enrolled in a swiftwater class. Keep your bag with you.

No I am not a class V or even IV boater but I do carry rescue equipment. Being an intermediate boater I usually boat with beginners and intermediates. That being said, I have seen several people swim, try to stand up in the moving water, have no clue of what position to be in while swimming and generally just do not know what to do. One guy told me that he was thrown a throw bag and wound up letting go because it was pulling him under water. He got a few more scrapes and bruises on the ensueing swim. After talking to him a bit more it turned out he wrapped it around his arm and flipped over on his stomach so he could look back at his rescuer. Who knows? maybe I would have done the same thing before I was taught the correct way.

The biggest thing I want to get across to people is $50-$90 spent on a throw bag and some other equipment could make a huge difference. Dont wait untill you take a SWR class to get one. Learn some of the basics to keep you and your friends safe. For all of you advanced boaters, Dont assume the new boaters have a clue, teach us a thing or two, before its too late.

Perhaps there is a natural progression of knowledge and we will all get that knowledge in time. If so, I think the progression is too slow. I equate the rude awakening I received in my SWR class to that of my first Avalanche class. DAMN, I put myself in some pretty stupid positions and am pretty lucky that nothing happened.

Ignorance is not Bliss.

To answer the question of what I carry on my person. Knife, Whistle, Rescue PFD, 2 locking biners, and my throw rope sits between my legs. I am not yet confident enough to throw and tow from my boat but hopefully will get there someday. Also have afirst aid and pin kit in the boat.

To address your statement about the webbing harness not being long enough to fit around your waist. How long is it? I carry an 18' piece in my firefighting gear and when climbing; specifically for that purpose. You can wrap it around several times and hold it in place with one of your locking biners. If there is too much slack adjust it at the water knot.

Best piece of advice I received in regards to kayaking
*****You are safer in your boat than swimming****** (thanks Terry)

These are just my opinions and any feedback is welcome.
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Old 06-06-2005   #5
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 82

Good point about not waiting for a SRT class to carry a throw rope. It can come in handy to someone more skilled in the event of an emergency. I often have my students help carry safety gear, but make sure that enough is in the hands of an instructor or safety boaters. The student carried gear is just back up.

I keep a 20 foot loop of webbing in my pin kit for setting up anchors. The piece that I'd like to have around my waist is about a loop about four feet long when doubled over. It's just the right length to make a three point sit in harness and clip into the "belay" loop of my Astral rescue vest. I don't have a background in climbing, but learned how to make a makeshift harness by reading River Rescue by Bechtel and Ray. Problem is that it's not long enough to go around my waist twice and it's too long for one loop. I guess I could always put it in my vest pocket, but it gets crowded up there.
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Old 06-06-2005   #6
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 27
Curtis, and all,

I have 2 prussiks around my waist, a small rope on the back of my PFD, a knife and a whistle in pocket of pfd.

In my open boat I also an extra paddle, a benie and long sleeve shirt, my first aid kit containing some waterproof matches, a couple of power bars, my pulley on another biner and my bigger rope. At any given time I prolly have 3 or 4 biners. I used to have a folding saw but lost it, prolly in the garage, and have not replaced it. (BTW, I think this is a pretty good tool and have actually used it twice.) This is a pretty light kit and I can do the basic stuff; get the person warm, treat cuts, do splints, stabilize sprained ankles, unpin boats and get some food in them (or me). One area I am unequipped for is bee sting or other anaphalitac shock.

I have given some thought to putting a couple of those little soup broth cubes in my first aid kit but have not done it. The problem is I would then need something in which to heat water, at least a small metal cup.

I like those little individual foil packages of antiseptic cream for the first aid kit. They are very thin; four of them take about zero space. If I ever need more than four neosporins then whoever I am with is screwd anyway because they are out of my range of medical knowledge.

One nice thing about the open boat is that you can use the painters for anchors so my painters are strong enough to serve that function.
Chris Kelly
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Old 06-06-2005   #7
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 82
Keep the good ideas rolling. I forgot to mention that I also have a Benchmade Rescue Hook on my PFD and a Fox 40 Whistle. I think a knife and a pealess whistle are the minimum that everyone should carry on their vest. I prefer the low profile rescue hook over full on river knives even though it limits me to 8mm line. A friend of mine nearly put out his eye when running a drop b/c his knife handle hit him in the cheek bone. Luckily, he only came away with a black eye. Those who want to carry a bigger knife might want to think about buying a serrated folder and keeping it in a PFD pocket or lashing it sideways to prevent eye injuries.

Chris, on your point about bullion, Jello packets might work well for this too. The can give back valuable electrolytes and warm Jello is very soothing. They would probably work well for diabetics too in a pinch. I'm starting to do overnight self-support trips, so I'll have a stove with me. There are several brands of titanium mugs/pots out there that are light weight and won't cost you an arm and a leg.
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