Click to Download and Print a Copy of this Briefing: Safety Brief

Comprehensive Safety Brief

Required things

  1. Boat
    1. Make sure you aren’t flopping around
    2. Make sure you can wet exit.  Everyone will wet exit. No exceptions. 
    3. Has flotation. If you don’t have floatation in your boat, we can’t be friends anymore.  
    4. Secure your stuff.  We rescue you.  Not your sandwich.  If you want lunch, make sure its tied into your boat.  
  2. Paddle.  
  3. PFD – Class III or V US Coast Guard Approved PFD
    1. Must wear anytime you are on the water.  No exceptions.
    2. Proper fit snug.  
    3. Make sure bottom strap is tight.
  4. Helmet – Whitewater Helmet
    1. Must wear it any time you are on a whitewater river
    2. Proper fit
      1. Not too lose
      2. Not too tight
      3. Should not obstruct vision
      4. Should not expose your forehead
  5. Skirt 
  6. Water for a full day, well on the water.  


  1. Dress for the swim
    1. What not to wear:  Cotton.  You will get wet, then you will get cold, and then you will die.  Don’t wear cotton on the river.
    2. What to wear:  Wool, Neoprene, Poly, other quick drying materials.  
  2. Closed-toe shoes.  Anyone here from West Virginia?  No?  Good!  I won’t have to explain what shoes are.  That should save us a good 15 minutes.  

River Hand/Paddle Signals

  1. OK?  Question and answer
  2. Go
  3. Stop
  4. Point in the direction of safety

River Whistle Signals

  3. THREE BLASTS – OH [insert your preferred four-letter word]!!!
    1. If you hear three whistle blasts, eddy out on the side of the river and await further instructions
    2. If you blow your whistle three times, it’s because you or someone else is in need of serious help. 

How to swim in whitewater

  1. Remain calm
  2. Nose and toes
  3. Hold on to your paddle.  Please.  We hate chasing paddles, and it’s kind of hard to paddle a river without, well, a paddle.  
  4. Safe Eddy Rule

How to receive a rope

  1. Thrower will yell, “Rope!”
  2. Firmly grab the rope with both hands.
    1. DO NOT grab the bag of rope
  3. Pull the rope down to your waist
  4. Make sure the rope is on the shoulder closest to the middle of the river
    1. If you are getting a face full of water, try the other side
  5. Arch your back
  6. Enjoy the ride
    1. DO NOT wrap the rope around your hand. 
    2. DO NOT wrap the rope around your neck.  


  1. You
    1. No alcohol or drugs.
    2. Know your limits
    3. Don’t do anything you think is unsafe
    4. Challenge by choice
    5. Let your instructor and support boaters know about any medical conditions and where to find medicine to treat those conditions, like an epi-pen.
  2. Stay away from commercial rafts and fishermen.
    1. Commercial rafts will run you over.  It’s bets to avoid them altogether.  If you are about to get run over by a raft, try to pull yourself up into the raft.  
    2. Fishermen have bad river karma.  They will blame you if they aren’t catching anything.   Stay away from them – don’t give them a reason to send bad vibes your way.
  3. Rocks – stay away from them.  They hurt.
  4. Strainers
    1. Trees or branches in the water. 
    2. Avoid them.
  5. Wildlife
    1. Look before you reach.
    2. Insects, Snakes and other sundry animals: Don’t touch them. 
    3. Plants:  Don’t touch them.  
    4. If someone didn’t drop it.  Don’t touch it.  
  6. Weather
    1. Wear sunscreen and/or SPF rated clothing
    2. Today’s weather outlook is: __________________ High _____ Low_____
    3. Lighting – We will not paddle within 30 minutes of the last observed lighting.  Get off the river and try to avoid tall trees.
      1. Assume the position.
        1. Place skirt on the ground
        2. Make a low profile