Stay Safe While Whitewater Rafting in New England
While whitewater rafting in New England is fun, intense and adventurous, it also has the potential to be very dangerous — especially if you’re rafting on waters rated Class III or higher. That’s why a personal flotation device (PFD), regardless of the intensity of the rapids, is crucial to personal safety. Personal protective equipment, such as helmets, are also recommended on whitewater rapids rated Class III and up.
But before we get into the proper posture, it’s first important to note that you shouldn’t be wearing open sandals or flip-flops while whitewater rafting. Instead, opt for a pair of water shoes or strap-on sandals. It’s important that whatever footwear you’re donning has a back to it to enhance your stability and traction on the raft.
How to Position Yourself for Safe Whitewater Rafting
While the right safety equipment is important out on the river, one of the best safety measures you can take is proper positioning inside the raft. Proper positioning of your feet and how you hold the paddle can reduce your chances of falling out of the raft, thereby minimizing the chances of sustaining an injury along the rapids.
That being said, here’s a look at how you should be positioning yourself inside the raft to ensure you’re secure and balanced:
- Wedge your feet in between the side of the raft and the support that’s in front of you. This effectively secures you inside the raft and still gives you enough upper body mobility to ensure that you’re able to paddle with your oar.
- If you’re in the front of the raft, there obviously won’t be any supports to wedge your feet between. Instead, there will likely be foot holes to secure your feet and stabilize your body. That’s where your feet should go in this situation.
- In terms of upper body posture, it’s important to always hold your paddle by the T-grip. This is a secure way to hold the paddle, as holding it differently and in a more relaxed fashion has the potential to cause injury to your hands or arms if the paddle blade comes into contact with a rock.
While those are the posture basics, keep in mind that following them may not be enough to prevent you from falling out of the raft. That is why it’s important to be as prepared and as safe as you possibly can be while you’re out on the water, which includes wearing the right PFD and a helmet.
This is all information that your whitewater rafting guide will go over with you extensively before you hit the waters. As we mentioned in the opening, while whitewater rafting in New England is extreme, enjoyable and a major adrenaline rush, it also has the potential to be very dangerous and, in dire circumstances, even fatal. Failure to take the proper precautions may not just open you up to injury, but can also throw off the balance of the raft and make others susceptible to injury.