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Canoe: Before You Board: Ten Tips for a Safe Canoe or Raft Trip

canoe,tips for safety on water

Before You Board: Ten Tips for a Safe Canoe or Raft Trip

Whether you’re looking to spend an afternoon on the water or making the trek to an amazing cave, canoeing and rafting offer everything you love about outdoor activities: physical exertion, beautiful views, and a sense of adventure. But a fun trip starts with safety, and these tips prepare you for your latest adventure!

Dress appropriately. Always check the water temperature and weather report before you head out and layer your clothing accordingly.

Be prepared to get wet. Keep a dry set of clothes in a watertight container to change into when you get to your destination – nothing’s worse than spending hours on land chilled and soaked.

Wear shoes. Rivers are notorious for shallow spots and rocky conditions, and if you end up leaving the canoe or raft, being barefoot leaves you at risk for cuts. Closed shoes are best – sandals don’t cut it.

Bring plenty of food and water. Canoeing and rafting take a lot of energy, and it’s easy to become dehydrated or lose steam after burning that many calories. Pack more bottled water than you think you’ll need and plenty of snacks for refueling.

Protect yourself from the sun. It doesn’t matter if it’s cloudy or the river you’re journeying down is shaded by trees: excessive sun exposure leaves you at risk for sun burn and sun poisoning. Wear plenty of SPF, keep an extra bottle on hand for reapplication, and wear a sun hat.

Bring, and use, safety gear. Stock your canoe or raft with a bailer or sponge to remove excess water, a first aid kit for emergencies, a whistle or flair to signal for help, and always wear an appropriate and well-fitting personal floatation device.

Review your map. Pinpoint emergency routes, take note of any hazards marked (such as shallow spots or fast moving water), and keep this map on hand at all times.

Inspect your canoe or raft. Even if your chosen mode of transportation was in perfect condition after your last trip, an inspection before heading out is a must. Check the hull for cracks or damage, ensure the drain plug is on board. Then, run one more inspection after you load the boat, ensuring weight is evenly distributed.

Tie down equipment. Even calm waters feature unexpected rough spots. Secure everything on the boat.

Board safely. Have someone hold the canoe or raft in place while you get in, use the sides for balance, and stay low to evenly distribute your weight.


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