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
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 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.
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.