Safety Information courtesy of Idaho Parks and Recreation

Often called The Whitewater State (unofficially), Idaho is a river-runner's dream. As with most forms of recreation, though, there is some risk related to white-water paddling. The following safety information is provided by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and the Payette River Wildwater Safety Council to help make your trip successful. You can also download a PDF river runners guide and more safety information.

PICK AN APPROPRIATE STRETCH OF RIVER
Match your skills and experience to the class of the river using the Scale of Difficulty.

DRESS FOR AN UNEXPECTED SWIM!
Cold water, which could lead to hypothermia, can rob your strength and impair your ability to swim to safety. Wear a wetsuit, nylon or fleece — not cotton!

USE PROPER EQUIPMENT
  • Coast Guard approved white-water life jacket/PFD (Type 3 or 5), fastened and snug
  • Helmet — to protect from serious injury
  • Cold water protective clothing
  • Protective footwear
  • Throw rope, whistle & knife and know how to use them

KEEP YOUR GROUP CLOSE TOGETHER
  • Have a float plan and rescue strategy
  • Safety of group is only as strong as least experienced member


RECOGNIZE AND AVOID HAZARDS
  • Fallen trees, low hanging branches and other strainers
  • Rocks and undercuts
  • Powerful hydraulics


SWIM AGGRESSIVELY
  • Away from hazards, toward calm water, the shore. or your raft
  • If rafting, pull swimmers aboard immediately
  • Avoid undercut banks and rocks


DEFENSIVE SWIM
  • Feet up and pointed downstream
  • Use your arms to maneuver
  • Don’t stand up! Avoid foot entrapment — fast water can entrap your foot between rocks, push you over, and pin you under the surface



SELF RESCUE
When spilled, check on your partner, get to the upstream end of the craft and swim to safest shore (a 15-foot canoe hurled against a rock by a current of 10 mph can exert a force of over four tons). Leave the boat only if it will improve your personal safety. If a rescue is not likely, if the water is numbing cold, or if a worse set of rapids is approaching, swim to the safest shore. To lessen your chance of injury, adopt the safe swim position.


Whitewater Safety Links