9 Tips for Whitewater Rafting Safety

Whitewater rafting is a challenging and thrilling sport that is popular with travelers in a number of destinations.

Whitewater Rafting

But, there are certain risks associated with this activity which mean the proper safety measures need to be put in place to ensure safety.

Whitewater rafting

Here are nine tips to stay safe while enjoying this thrilling activity:


Expect to get a drenching when whitewater rafting so wear clothes and shoes that can get wet.

Plus, avoid taking along electronics (camera, cell phone, etc.) because of the issues of water damage or getting lost.


Wear a helmet at all times when participating in whitewater rafting to give protection to the head from the potential dangers of the fast-flowing waters.

Use the purpose-made rafting helmets to ensure full protection is provided.

Listen to the guide

Before setting out on the water the raft guide will provide a safety talk on what to expect and how best to handle difficult situations encountered on the water.

Make sure to listen to what the guide has to say and follow along with the instructions if needing to later in the day.


Put in the time and effort to find the right outfitter who is highly rated in the local area and has a lot of prior experience. Use web-based tools to help find the outfitters with a good number of positive reviews from past guests.

Plus, a chosen outfitter should employ the experienced staff and have up-to-date safety equipment.

PFD (personal floatation device)

Even if a great swimmer, it is essential to wear a PFD or life jacket while rafting in the rapids.

A PFD should be sized to give a precise fit to make sure it works effectively in the event of an emergency.


Get basic training on rafting control and handling the paddle before going out on the faster rapids.

A proper grasp of holding the paddle means less change of accidents such as hitting yourself in the face.

Stay calm

Do not panic when whitewater rafting, especially in situations where you might fall out the paddle raft. Move as quickly as possible to the raft and hold on.

Most often the person that falls overboard will pop up quite close to the actual raft.

But, if you are washed away from the raft make your way to the nearest other boat or if that isn’t an option, swim to either side of the riverbank.


Whitewater rafting means being exposed to the natural sunlight for many hours. Use a high-strength, water-resistant sunscreen on all areas of exposed skin such as the arms and legs.

Avoid using the regular sunblock because this will easily be washed off in the event of getting splashed and sweating.

Swimming techniques

In the event of falling outside the boat, there are usually two preferred swimming techniques that can be used.

The first one is known as the “Down River Swimmers Position” which basically involves being on your back with knees bent and head up. And the other option is to swim on the stomach in a forward motion.