Whitewater Rafting River Safety Information

Obtaining River Skills

River Skills

This is why you join a whitewater rafting club to get experience and descend new rivers with experienced river runners. You will meet new people like yourself who enjoy being outdoors in this lifelong sport.

Life Jackets

Always wear your Coast Guard approved life jacket (PDF Personal Flotation Device) to set a good example for others you will encounter. Oregon State laws require that each boat have a Coast Guard approved Type I,II or III personal flotation device (PFD) os suitable size for each person on board. These PDFs must be readily accessible. Children under 12 MUST WEAR PFDs while boats are underway. In Oregon, all boaters operating in Class III or higher whitewater rapids MUST WEAR an approved Coast Guard Type I, III, or V PFD suitable for use on whitewater rivers. All boats MUST ALSO CARRY a sound signaling device (such as a whistle or compressed air horn) and a lantern showing white light when underway to at anchor between sunset and sunrise and during periods of limited visibility.

DO NOT RAFT ALONE Three rafts is the usual minimum for whitewater rivers. Always keep the raft behind you sight. You are responsible for the safety of the raft behind you. Tie in all your gear just in case you flip. Secure all lines on your raft so there is no danger of becoming entangled in case of a capsize. Beware of "Strainers" overhanging trees, brush, logs and other obstacles the water flows through rather than around, these could trap you. Scout difficult rapids from shore before running. Portage if in doubt. If you don't want to swim it don't run it, walk around. In case of a capsize get to the upstream end of your raft so you don't get pinned between your raft and a rock. Cold water saps your strength quickly. Wear a wet suit or dry suit in case you swim in colder climates. Learn your limitations and get safety training to enjoy our beautiful rivers in the North West.

Medical and First Aid Issues

NWRA Outings are wilderness adventures where the group may not have ready access to definitive medical care such as 911. Each leader is first-aid trained and carries a first-aid kit for medical emergencies. The first-aid kit only includes general first-aid supplies and some over-the counter medications appropriate for the type of outing-it does not include any prescription medications.

We do require you to bring a basic, personal first-aid kit, along with whatever over-the-counter and prescription medications you may need. If you are bringing a prescription medication, it is best to bring a spare set in the event that your primary set gets lost, wet or unusable.

At the put-in you will have access to a medical form if yuo have any medical issues the trip leader should be aware of. Fill out and submitt to the trip leader before you are accepted onto the trip. We ask for this information so that our trip leader will know in advance of special medical conditions you may have, rather than learning about them in a crisis. Also, in the event of serious injury or illness, this form provides emergency medical personnel with a useful medical history. After reviewing this form, the trip leader may discuss whether the trip will be safe and enjoyable for you considering your medical history. We will keep the information on this form confidential. It will be seen only by the trip leader, medical personnel, or others who know and understand its confidential nature. The form will be retained along with your liability waiver for a period of time following the trip, after which it will be destroyed. If you choose not to go on the trip, this form will be destroyed immediately.

Please visit our trip Frequently Asked Questions, and other useful information for planning your trip.

NWRA Drug Policy (BUI - Boating Under the Influence)

The American Whitewater Association Safety Code is the general safety guideline used by the Northwest Rafters Association. The AW Safety code states in the Group Preparedness and Responsibility section:

Number 6. Drugs. The use of alcohol or mind-altering drugs before or during river trips is not recommended. It dulls reflexes, reduces decision-making ability, and may interfere with important survival reflexes."

The Northwest Rafters Association takes a firmer stance, and has adopted a zero tolerance policy on the use of intoxicants, including, mind-altering drugs and alcohol while on the water, at lunch and before boating on official club trips. NWRA expects participants on club trips to boat sober.

Oregon Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Permit Required

Oregon requires an Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Permit are required for:
•All non-motorized boats (paddlecraft) 10 feet and longer, resident and out-of-state
•Out-of-state motorboats and sailboats 12 feet in length or more
•Buy: Try your local Fred Meyer or >> GO HERE

river permit

Safety Code of American Whitewater

Acrobat PDF Download the River Running Safety Code in a PDF file.

Be safe...