Is whitewater rafting safe?

White water rafting allows you to shoot the rapids and see how well you react under pressure. Even if you take a tour with a guide to help you get through the rapids, your raft can tip over at any moment. 

Not only can this leave you in freezing cold water, but you may even find that the rest of your group is hundreds of feet away from you. Rafting is usually as safe as any other adventure sport and you can find the best beginner white water rafting Yellowstone has to offer. But whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you should check out these tips to increase your overall safety.

Wear Appropriate Gear

The best way to stay safe on your rafting adventure is with the right gear. You should avoid any clothing that fits loosely or has pieces that can catch on the raft if it flips. Most guided tours give you both a life vest and a helmet though you also have the choice to bring your own. A helmet ensures that you don’t hit your head on any of the rocks in the water. Wearing a life vest will keep you from sinking to the bottom of the river, too.

Know What You Can Handle

You wouldn’t run a 5k when you could not walk a single mile, and you should not attempt rapids you can’t handle either. Rapids range from Class 1 to Class 6. While Class 1 rapids are mild and safe for beginners and those without any experience, Class 6 rapids have obstacles that can cause serious injury. The higher you move up the Class ladder, the more obstacles and dangers you’ll find. Class 1 and Class 2 rapids are usually the best options for beginners. Do not attempt any of the higher classes until you have more rafting experience.

Pay Attention to Commands

No matter what company you use, your guide will show you some basic commands before you hit the water. As the rapids are so loud, it’s often hard or even impossible to hear someone asking for help. You need to use hand signals to show that you are in distress or in help. The commands are both easy to learn and remember as long as you pay attention. If you aren’t sure how to do one of those hand signals, ask before you get to the rapids. The right signal ensures that you get the help you need.

Get Ready for Falls

Even the most experienced rafters will fall in the water every now and then. They know what to do to stay safe. Make sure you know the location of the outside safety (OS) line, which is on the side of the raft. As soon as you land in the water, bring yourself up and grasp this line. You may find that you are too far away to reach the line but don’t worry. Simply stay in the swimming position with your feet facing downstream and your head up and out of the water. The guide can toss a line or bag and pull you back to the raft.

Know How to Brace Yourself

Bracing yourself is a good way to make sure you stay in the raft as you go over the rapids. You sit flat inside with your butt on the bottom of the raft. As you move over the rapids, one side of the raft will become higher than the other. Listen to your guide when they tell you to go high or to the high side. This tells you to move your body to the left or right as it rises.

When you plan a white water rafting trip, you might worry about what could happen on the trip. Don’t let your worries stop you from having the time of your life. Not only is rafting safe, but you can learn what to do to stay as safe as possible on the longest of adventures. Make sure you listen to your guide to learn the signals that rafters use and when you need to go high. The right guide can keep your whole group safe.