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  • Writer's pictureJacynthe Boudreau

5 things to say in your Rafting Safety Talk

You are going out for a Rafting trip

and you are the one in charge?

Make sure you make a nice and complete safety talk

to be sure they respond well once they will be

It will avoid you some trouble or panic reaction

en case the weather change or the currents increase.

1. Presentation:

It is always important to present yourself properly when you are the leader on a rafting tour.

Tell the participants your name but also make a small resume of what will be the itinerary and general developement of todayá activity. How long to reach the river, when you will provide the equipment and make the safety talk and how long you will be paddeling on the river.

Those informations will secure your group.

2. Equipment:

Show the equipment we will use during the activity and the way to use it.

  • Wetsuit:

We will all wear a wetsuit to be comfortable and avoid hypothermia when we get wet.

  • Helmet:

All helmets are of a standard size and are adjustable by the strips they have inside. The helmets must fit holding well under the chin. If you can take them off without unclipping it, the water will do the same; that's why they should be nice and tight

  • Life jacket- PFD:

The pillow in the back of the vest must stay on the outside, this gives the necessary flotation to keep your head out of the water.

The PFD that you will be wearing has 3 straps that must be tight on your chest.

If someone falls into the water and the PFD is loose, it will go up and you might not be able to see around yourself nor swim.

It will also be harder for you to get back on the raft properly. To help someone get on, we can pull them in holding the shoulder part of the PFD.

  • Paddle:

Most accidents on the river are due to misuse of the paddle. The paddle should be taken by the handle that has a T shape. You should always keep your hand on that T grip during the entire trip. If you have to hold on to the rope during the descent, make sure you do it by passing your hand over the paddle, to prevent hitting someone or yourself with your uncontrolled paddle.

3. What to do If somebody fall in the water:

If you are ejected from the raft, the first thing you must do is remain calm. Simply close your mouth, open your eyes and try to keep your paddle in your hand. Once you are calm, adopt the swift water swimming position. Put your feet forward, together and above the water level looking downstream. In this way, you will be able to see any obstacle coming on your way.

If you fall near the raft, grab the life line or life rope and wait for the closest person to help you get back in the raft. Please avoid that everybody jumps to help the swimmer. If you all go on the same side at the same time it can result in a complete flip of the raft and you will then all end up in the water ...

The way to help someone get back on the raft is: first leave the paddle in a safe place where it won’t get in the way, then take the swimmer's paddle and put it in a safe place too. Pull the swimmer out of water holding him by the PFD and let yourself fall with all your body weight backwards. Always do this with the swimmer facing the boat, never if he is on his back as it may cause injury.

If you fall out of the raft and cannot reach the life line, remember to remain calm. Try to keep your paddle and adopt the swift water swimming position. If you are near the raft, you can use the paddle as an extension of your arm by offering the T-handle to the people in the boat. Do not offer the paddle’s blade as it is wet and slippery and the person in the raft might not grab it properly.

If you are further away, remember to remain calm. Close your mouth, open your eyes, try not to lose your paddle and adopt the swift water swimming position. The guide be looking to get your attention and shout "rope" before throwing you the rescue rope. The guide will try to throw the rope directly at your face, but since we are not professional baseball players there is a possibility that the rope will not reach you directly but get close to you. If you are close, swim in the direction of the rope and grab it. Do NOT grab it by the bag! This bag has more than 15 meters of rope in and you may start to go away from the raft instead of closer. Pass the rope over one of your shoulders, always looking down river, this way the water will pass on your sides creating an air space that will allow you to breathe well. Do not look upstream as you most likely swallow a good part of the river. Simply wait for the guide to pull you to the raft. Never try to tie the rope to your hand, much less around your neck (it could be dangerous ...!).

Also, do not try to stand on the river, you could get stuck on a stone or a trunk.

4. Positions in the raft:

The proper way to sit on the raft is by sitting on the tube that is on the edge. Putting one of your feet under the tube that is in front of you and the other on the floor of the raft in the footcup. Your foot under the tube will stabilize you and keep your balance to avoid falling into water. Fixing your other foot in the footcup or under the thwart will give you a better general grab. In the front position, you will find that the footcups are the safest place for your feet.

5. Paddling commands:

The proper way to grab the paddle is one hand on the T handle and the other on themiddle of the

paddle, not too close to the blade nor the handle.


The first command is forward. To paddle forward you should enter your paddle blade completely in the water in front of you and, using the weight of your body pull the water back until the level of your hips.

Stop The second command is Stop. You just have to stop paddling completely and take your paddle out of the water.

Back paddle: The back command is to paddle backward. You should enter your paddle blade completely in the water from the level of your hips and, using the weight of your body push the water downstream until your knee.

Right Back: Right back means that only those on the right side must back paddle and automatically those on the left side must paddle forward. This command is used to be able to turn the raft quickly.

Left Back: It is the same as right back, but this time only those on the left side must back paddle and those on the right automatically paddle forward. This command is used to be able to turn the raft quickly.


This is a command of attention or emergency, it will be used when there is a probability of capsizing. The proper way to go down is with one hand over the paddle grabbing the life line, that way you keep control on your paddle. Then go down with your knees bent towards the floor of the raft. And be alert to return quickly to the paddling position, returning to your sitting place on the raft.

All Right side, All Left side:

This command is also use in emergency and will be used to avoid capsizing. It means that everyone should go to the right or to the left of the raft according to the command. Leaning all one side and having a heavier weight on one side of the raft can make you avoid a flip while hitting a rock or a big wave.

Those who are sitting in the front of the raft are the leaders, they mark the rhythm of paddling, for that reason, they must synchronize they movements and the people in the back should follow their pace.

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