I was SO happy to receive this guest post, written by author Dale Cooper, because I think you have to be prepared and have a plan when rafting as a family. It can be dangerous, but if you feel comfortable taking your kids out on a raft for their first time, then I highly suggest reading through this article and taking the necessary precautions and planning that Dale recommends!
Summer is a great time to try a new outdoor family trip like white water rafting. There are rafting runs all over the country, and a quick internet search will point you to one close by. White water rafting is exciting, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t follow a few precautions. If you’re new to white water rafting, read through this guide before heading out on your family trip.
Choosing a river
Depending on where you live, you may not have much choice in where you go rafting. Most white water rafting runs are located on state- or federally protected land, so look for parks and forests near where you live. Rivers are graded according to the speed, force and difficulty of the rapids. There are six classes of rapids in total, as defined by the International Scale of River Difficulty, ranging from Class I (easy) to Class VI (unraftable). If this is your family’s first rafting trip, you should start with a Class I river or, if your children are teenagers, a Class II river with the help of a guide. Also keep in mind that rapids can change throughout the year; heavy rains or spring snow melts can cause the river to swell and move more quickly, which can lead to a dangerous situation for inexperienced white water rafters.
Finding a rafting company
There are a lot of rafting companies that offer white water rafting trips. Here are a few things to ask before choosing a company:
- What is the rafting company’s safety record?
- Does safety equipment cost extra? You should never go white water rafting without a life vest and helmet.
- Will a guide take you down the river? No matter what the class of rapids, white water rafting can be dangerous. For your first trip down the river, a guide can offer instruction on navigating the raft as a team, and tell you about obstacles that should be avoided.
On the water
Once you get out on the raft, it can be easy to forget how dangerous the river can be. Stay seated in the raft while going through turbulent water, and communicate with the rest of the team so you’re paddling in sync. Paddling in different directions won’t get you anywhere; you have to work together to avoid obstacles and enter rapids at the right speed and angle.
What to do if you fall into the river
If you do fall out of the raft, stay calm; you should be wearing a life vest. If you’re in slow-moving water, simply swim to the bank and climb back into the raft. If you fall into the water while going through rapids, which is more likely, don’t panic. Float face up and with the current while pointing your feet downriver so that rocks, branches and other debris hit your feet rather than your head. When the water calms, swim to the shore and wait to be picked up by your raft.
White water rafting can be a lot of fun, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t follow recommended safety precautions. Choose the right river and listen to your guide, and you’ll be sure to have an exciting and memorable family trip.
When planning a white water rafting trip, or any family activity, make sure you have an auto insurance policy that will cover you no matter what happens. To find partial or full coverage auto insurance, compare the prices and policies of several companies before choosing one.