Boating and Canoeing Safety
•Know the river
•Know your group
•Know your own skills and resources
•Have the right equipment
2. On the River
•Keep the group together in some fashion
•Be prepared for a rescue
•Have the proper paddling and rescue skills
Dynamics of Accidents Formula
These two factors can overlap to a greater or lesser extent.
The greater the overlap the
higher the Accident Potential. The effect of combining Environmental
Hazards and Human Factor Hazards multiplies the
Accident Potential rather than simply being additive.
The greater the number of hazards, the more quickly the Accident
Potential can rise.
Accident Potential Increase2
Human Factor Hazards=4 times higher Accident Potential3
Human Factor Hazards=9 times higher Accident Potential
Test your knowledge about the Dynamics of Accidents Model.
2) Examples of Hazards
When assessing the potential environmental hazards you need
to look at three factors.
•Static - activities in which the environment is realtively
unchanging (e.g. hiking)
•Dynamic - activities in which the environment change change
very quickly in
unpredictable ways (e.g. whitewater paddling, biking)
In remote locations you need to exercise additional precautions.
One common method
of accomplishing this is to increase the rating of the rapid by
one class if you are in a
For example, a Class III becomes a Class IV.
This helps take into account the increase in Accident Potential
Weather and the possibility of weather changes also have a significant
impact on Accident Potential.
Examples of Hazardsi.
•Cold temperatures (water/air)equipment
•Overexposure to sun
•Poor physical strength, stamina
•No awareness of hazards
•No skills to avoid hazards
•Resistance to instructions
•Irresponsible/careless attitude towards self, others, equipment
•Other inexperienced paddlers on the river
•Need to "prove" self - macho
•Lack of proper equipment (PFD, helmet etc.)
•Improper clothing for temperature
•Boat in poor repair
Human Factor HazardsA.
•Lack of knowledge of environmental hazards
•Inadequate skills to extricate self and group from hazards
•Poor safety judgement
•Poor teacher of necessary skills
•Poor supervisor, does not correct problems
•Ineffectual under stress
•Bad road conditions
•Other erratic drivers
•Rushing to meet schedule
•Overly tired from long drive
•Not driving defensively
•Poor driving skills
•Group not yet formed, lacks cooperative structure
•Interpersonal frictions unresolved
•Poor communication patterns
•Scapegoating or lack of concern for slow or different
•Individuals excessive pressure or stress to "perform"
•No practice in working harmoniously under stress
•Lack of leadership within group
•Splintering into sub-groups
3) Sample Accident Scenarios
Think of an accident situation you have been in whether on
an outdoor trip or in some
Analyze the situation and list the Environmental Hazards and the
Human Factor Hazards
that led to the Accident Potential.
4) Teaching the Formula = Reducing the Accident Potential
It is essential to teach the Dynamics of Accidents Formula
at the very beginning of any
trip (or prior to leaving campus) so that all participants are
aware of how their behavior
is directly related to reducing the possibility of accidents.
Participants then can take
some responsibility for their own safety.
The formula gives you four basic things:
1.•A technique for evaluating risk potential in the field
2.•A tool for analyzing how accident potential can be reduced
3.•A decision making tool •A rationale for why OA has
particular things we teach,
particular rules and policies
4.•A rationale for why you make particular decisions
5) Environmental Briefing
A comprehensive Safety Program allows one to intervene to prevent
Hazards from overlapping with Environmental Hazards and thereby
Accident Potential. In order to do this it is necessary to rethink
from Day 1 of the trip
what is an environment? In planning a trip the leaders must examine
and the activities of the trip in order to ascertain what the
possible environment hazards
of that trip are. This information must be communicated to the
group in the form of an Environmental Briefing at the beginning
the trip with subsequent briefings when there
is a change in environment or activity (e.g if a hiking group
changes to canoeing the environment and activity have changed
there are different environmental hazards).
The first Environmental Briefing should follow the leaders’presentation
of the Dynamics
of Accidents formula. On longer trips it may be useful to have
the participants do some of
the Environmental Briefings once they are familiar with the formula.
This can be done with
the help of the leaders. The Environmental Briefings set a a tone
for safety and help
inculcate the idea that the participant is responsible for his/her
6) What If?
It is important to analyze the possible accident potentials from
a what if perspective.
Ask yourself: " what is the worst case scenario. ?"
Then ask yourself: " what you can do to reduce the accident
Running A River
1.Introduction - Skills/River 2.What Skills?
•What is the highest skill level of the group?
•What is the lowest skill level of the group?
The river or river section should be chosen based on something
that the person(s)
with the least skills in the group could run. The person(s) with
the highest skills should
feel comfortable in performing rescues in the most difficult section
of the river.
2. What River?
1.River Classification System
•AWA Standard I - VI River Classification System. Currently
there are a number of efforts
going on to revise the River Classification system so that it
becomes more open ended
like the rating system used for rock climbing.
•Be aware of differences in western vs. eastern ratings
and the current tendency towards downrating.
•If you are paddling in a remote area or on a multi-day
trip where help is a significant
distance away, upgrade the rating of the rapid by one class. So
a Class III would be
considered a Class IV in terms of the consequences because of
•Depth in Feet
•Cubic Feet per Second (CFS)
•How does it change?
4.Type of River
•Pool/Drop - drops tend can be steeper and more difficult
•Continuous - can present more difficult rescue
3. What Equipment?
1.How long is the trip? one day, multi-day
2.How remote is the trip? from help, resupply
3.What are temperature and weather conditions?
4.What spare equipment should you have?
5.If something went wrong, what would you need?
6.Equipment to bring
•Boats - in good repair
•Paddles - are spares needed?
•Clothing - What type is needed based on water and air temperatures?
If air and water
temp add up to less than 100 degrees F you should have a wet or
dry suit (this is a not especially conservative).
•PFD - with knife, whistle, carabiner
•First Aid Kit
•Other Rescue Gear
•slings (1/2 " tubular nylon webbing)
•prussik loops (made from perlon)
•rescue pulleys (optional)
7.Other Equipment Issues
•Check it out - Leaders then need to make sure that all
participants have the necessary equipment.
If people are bringing their own equipment it must be examined
to make sure that it is
in good shape.
•How to use it - Participants must be instructed on the safe
and appropriate use of all equipment.
This issue of leadership on paddling trips is often overlooked,
especially on club trips. Whenever you head to the river there
some fundamental skills that need to exist
both with each paddler, and among the group. Individual paddlers
appropriate paddling skills, equipment, and judgement to let them
navigate the river
safely. There also need to be skills like first aid, CPR, river
rescue and equipment
like rescue gear and a good first aid kit. If these things aren`t
there and you need them,
you may be in serious danger.
The notion of a "trip leader" may be antithetical
to some paddlers, but having someone
who is designated to make sure that all these things are taken
care of is just good expedition-style planning. It doesn`t mean
the "leader" makes all the trip decisions.
Rather, this person serves as the "conscience" of the
group, that little reminder to make
sure that all the bases are covered. In an emergency situation,
the people with the most
river rescue or first aid experience need to take charge and this
might not be the
designated trip leader.
This is something that also should be determined before a group
goes out, who has the
skills and judgment to take over in an emergency and who is the
back-up person in case
the primary is the victim.
5. On the River
1.How to Run a River
•Scout - especially anything blind or new
•Scout "Down from the Top and Up from the Bottom"
•Lead and Sweep boats - keeps the group "contained"
within a safety net
•Buddy System - makes sure that someone else is always aware
of where you are
•When Do You Carry?
•Whenever you feel like it.
•When there are any serious concerns/reservations about the
safety of running the drop.
•When you need to "set an example" for other members
of the group
•When you are tired/cold etc. and are not in the proper condition
to run the drop safely
and in control.
•Tell your paddling partners not to run the drop if they
are in questionable shape to
handle it (either physically, mentally, or technically.)
•Save Others - size up people on river via technique, equipment
attitude and give
appropriate feedback - be tactful •Hypothermia
In order to deal with any emergency situation you need to have
the proper skills and
training. These skills must be learned before going out on the
river. In the middle of
an emergency is not the time to see if you can throw your Throw
•To treat injuries or medical emergencies
•What if someone on a raft trip had a heart attack or a diabetic
•What if someone in your group was highly allergic to bee
3.AWA River Signals
•All members of the party should know them
4.River Rescue Skills
•From an experienced River Rescue training group.
River Rescue Organization
1.Preplanning (Ask yourself these questions before you get to
•What if there is an emergency situation?
•How much time do I have to effect a rescue?
•Where to set up rescue systems?
•Should someone walk out for help? Who?
•What do I do about the emergency?
•What equipment would I need for a rescue?
•Do I have the skills for the rescue?
•Do I have the manpower for the rescue? Do I need additional
•Who takes control in an emergency?
•The person(s) most skilled in that area (river rescue, first
aid) must take control and
others follow his/her instructions
•What if the leader(s) are the victim(s)? Who is next in
charge? You should have a
back-up person both for rescue and first aid.
2.Rescue Planning (Ask yourself these questions in an actual
•Assess the situation - Establish Priorities
•How many people are involved?
•Head up vs head down situation?
•Is the person stable?
•How much time do I have?
•What are my resources - human and equipment?
•What are the extent of injuries?
•What is the safest way to effect the rescue?
•Effecting the rescue
•The leader must assign tasks to the group
•The leader should try to keep from being intimately involved
in the actual rescue to
remain free to continually assess the situation. This assumes
that there are others in
the group with the skills/abilities to follow through with the
rescue. If this is not the
case the leader may have to effect the rescue.
1.SAFETY = JUDGEMENT
2.Know your limits and groups limits. Be conservative.
3.Be flexible - (e.g. change route if needed)