River Safety

By: Kara Tsuboi
By: Kara Tsuboi

All experts will agree that the number one piece of safety equipment to have on the river is a life jacket. It should fit snuggly and not lift up too much at the top. Now let's put it to the test.
For Laurence Alvarez and Marc Goddard, the rapids on this stretch of the Truckee River are nothing compared to the Chilean or Siberian whitewater they raft on their international expeditions. But wherever they guide, they say the safety principles are the same.
Alvarez calls them the "Safety ABCs." "Alcohol and white water don't mix, so don't drink and driver--even on white water, it's quite dangerous. B stands for buoyancy. Make sure you have a good life jacket that's snug on your body so it will float you to the surface if it needs to. C is cold. Hypothermia is dangerous."
Our region is home to many refreshing rivers that beckon to swimmers in the warm summer months.
If you find yourself in a swift current--whether on purpose or on accident--experts say there is a correct--and safe--way to swim: practically sit in the water, feet first with your toes above the surface. Then, when you're in calmer waters you can try paddle ashore.
"Never try to stand in fast-moving water because your feet might get stuck on the bottom of the river and next thing you know, you get pushed over by the current, you're underwater, your feet are stuck and that's very dangerous. That's one hundred percent avoidable by pretending you're a leaf on the surface of the river."
Another commonly seen river no-no is one boat pulling another.
Any loose rope can pose a serious danger. If you tie an ice-chest to your raft and tow that behind you, that can become a dangerous entrapment. So you want to have a clean boat and avoid all loose loops. Any loose string can be dangerous on the river.
These beautiful rivers can be the source of endless fun...if you respect their powers and do everything in yours to stay safe.
Here's one more tip. If you come to the river with kids, be sure that they're wearing the right safety equipment. And, keep an eye on them so they don't float down the river. Reporting from the Truckee River, Kara Tsuboi, Newschannel 8.


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