The following safety information was
extracted from an article by Brian Johnston (with his permission), CRCA
Moving Water Instructor, entitled "Surfing for Safety" published in
MRCA Newsletter Volume 12, Number 4, Winter 1999.
The information has been modified and expanded by
D R Kurt.
American Whitewater Association Safety site
A lot of good links but be sure to visit the Accident Database.
Gruelling details and statistics drive home facts for all paddlers:
85 percent of drowned boaters weren't wearing a PFD,
25 percent of drowned boaters died from being pinned, and
4 percent drowned as a result of foot entrapment.
Two years ago a skilled guide drowned in a keeper on
the Pigeon River on the East side of Lake Winnipeg; RCMP say he had a
100 percent chance of surviving if he was wearing his PFD. His only
tourist/client watched him drown then had to deal with getting off the
remote wilderness river on his own. They had put their PFDs in their
packs rather than carry them.
A stone and cement monument are erected overlooking
Kiskoosebesis Rapids on Manitoba's Bloodvein River where a young man
drowned a few years ago because it was "TOO HOT" to wear a PFD; despite
the fact he could not swim and was not skilled in running rapids. His
twin brother and the trip leader erected the monument several weeks
after the accident. During the rescue and recovery, another canoe party
and official rescuers nearly suffered their own losses due to a few
Canadian Coast Guard
Minimum required safety equipment for canoes, kayaks, rowboats and rowing shells not over 6 metres long:
- 1 bailer or one manual water pump with
sufficient hose to enable one person to pump water from the bilge of
the vessel over the side of the vessel
- 1 Canadian approved PFD or life jacket of appropriate size for each person on board
- navigation lights as set out in
the CCG Collision Regulations for use after sunset and before sunrise
(1 flashlight or approved flares)
- one buoyant heaving line not less than 15 meters long
- navigation equipment - one sound-signalling device or a sound signalling appliance (1 whistle or airhorn)
- 1 manual propelling device (paddle)
- USE a WATERPROOF flashlight (a BRIGHT one).
- 1 PADDLE PER PADDLER PLUS a spare paddle in the boat.
- WEAR PROPERLY FITTING PFDs (whatever the CCG approved colour).
- WEAR a whitewater HELMET when in whitewater; PROTECT YOUR COCONUT!
- SECURE your buoyant heaving line (and
painters) so they aren't foot loose, secure them under bungee cords on
the decks of your boat; tie on the bailer too!
- ATTACH a LOUD (STORM or FOX40) whistle to EACH PADDLER's PFD.
NOT on the zipper pull, if the whistle catches on something your flotation might come undone when you need it most!
Use a good throwbag from Northwater or Ostrom to
meet the Canadian Coast Guard's 15 meter buoyant heaving line
requirement with gusto.
Throw it to that human flotsam.
Or, if the flotsam is you, swim to shore WITH the
throw bag, THEN haul the boat in for an easier self rescue (if you've
attached the other end of the throw bag rope to your boat's grab loop).
Good outfitting will help to keep you floating and
minimize potential for getting pinned on a rock, bridge abutment,
strainers, undercuts or other hard places.
Pick up a copy of Paul Mason's and Mark Scriver's
"Thrill of the Paddle", a book that provides excellent outfitting
information for boat and paddler no matter how easy or extreme the
U/M Hypothermia Studies
Dr. Giesbrecht has submersed over 300 human subjects
into various hypothermic states to monitor physiological and
psychological recovery and techniques useful in improving recovery from
If the victim is shivering, provide sweet (sucrose)
warm liquids to drink (no alcohol), remove wet clothes and dry the body
then put it into warm insulating clothes (or sleeping bag, etc.). Body
warmth from others might help.
If the victim is no longer shivering, do not provide
any liquids, but change him or her to dry clothes and provide
additional warmth if possible.
Of course, treat for drowning (respiration first aid) if necessary.
Join Paddle Manitoba to find A PADDLING BUDDY,
take a canoe paddling COURSE,
be INFORMED ABOUT YOUR TRIP,
SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES with others.
formerly Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association
GET OUT AND PADDLE, BUT DO IT SAFELY!