Safety

Safety and comfort is always the first priority in all our programs, and more than 120,000 students have safely participated in award-winning RiverWatch School Programs since 1995.

Our remarkable safety record represents 750,000 student hours and more than a million student kilometers in rafts without any safety incident requiring EMS 911 emergency medical services.

RiverWatch rafts are used to transport participants along a ten-kilometer section of their local river, with participants providing the paddling power. A combination of policy, equipment, procedures, experience and training keeps everyone safe during RiverWatch programs:

• RiverWatch participants are not required to be comfortable swimmers - the safest place to be is inside the raft or on-shore. 

• Life jackets are worn at all times on-river and along the shoreline.

• A safety briefing is given prior to boarding rafts.

• There is a qualified and experienced guide in each raft certified to Transport Canada commercial rafting standards. 

RiverWatch raft trips use the easiest Grade I rivers with clear navigation and three main river hazards.

• Obstacles – mid-river rocks, bridge pillars and fallen shoreline trees

• Falling overboard – not likely, but possible

• Paddles – may accidentally hit other paddlers

River hazards are controlled in the following manner: 

• Obstacles – participants listen to the guide's commands and paddle as asked

• Falling overboard - participants grab the raft lifeline and do not try standing up

• Paddles – participants pick-up their paddles slowly, keeping their top hand on the grip 

Informed Consent

For RiverWatch school programs, detailed pre-trip information is provided through the school describing "who, what, where, when and how".

• Parents acknowledge that all water activities are associated with some risk and grant permission to participant based on informed consent.

• All our programs include a pre-trip on-site safety briefing to explain trip logistics, hazards and safety response.

RiverWatch Safety Equipment

Large professional-sized rafts are used for a stable platform from which to view the river.  Additionally, RiverWatch provides:

• Type V personal flotation devices (life jackets) as mandated by Transport Canada and the Coast Guard.

• Approved and properly-fitted life jackets worn at all times on or near the water.

• A pre-trip safety briefing on how to fit a life jacket, prevent incidents and handle emergencies.

• Chemistry lab safety during water quality testing as required in all laboratories - safety glasses, garbage containers, liquid waste collection bottles, broken glass container, first-aid kit and eyewash.

• Rubber boots and raincoats for use in cool or wet weather.

RiverWatch Guides

RiverWatch guides are trained to Transport Canada Commercial Rafting Standards.

• Guides have Standard First Aid certification and/or may also have Wilderness First Aid, National Lifeguard Society, Swift Water Rescue or Emergency Medical Responder training.

• All river guides have lifetime experience with paddling canoes or kayaks and receive pre-season raft training to Transport Canada commercial rafting standards.

EMS 911

After more than 750,000 student hours and more than a million student kilometers in rafts, there has never been a RiverWatch safety incident requiring EMS 911 emergency medical services.

• RiverWatch guides carry an emergency response plan, first aid kit, rescue rope, dry spare clothing and a cell phone.

• RiverWatch operates within urban centres that have calling access to Emergency Medical Services 911.

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