Maybe white water rafting has always been on your bucket list, or maybe your friends are trying to talk you into going with them and you wouldn't have considered it otherwise. Either way, you might be feeling a bit more nervous than normal if you're not a strong swimmer. What will you do if the raft capsizes? What if the rapids are stronger than you anticipated? The good news is that you don't have to cancel your trip!
Even if swimming isn't one of your big strengths, here are four ways to stay safe while white water rafting.
1. Use a Reputable River Guide
Only very experienced rafters should ever go white water rafting by themselves. So, if you don't consider yourself a strong swimmer, going with a company that provides river rafting guides is essential to staying safe. When you have a guide that is experienced, prepared for emergencies, and will give instructions throughout the activity, you'll be sure to feel safer and be able to relax. Just make sure to double-check reviews of the company and make sure they're fully licensed to be river guides—they should be happy to share those credentials with you!
2. Wear All Equipment Properly
Wearing a life jacket is never the most comfortable or cute option, but it is the safest. Everybody, even strong swimmers, needs life jackets and helmets. But just having a life jacket and helmet isn't enough; you need to make sure they're snug and secure or they won't provide the protection you need. Your guide will be able to help you get everything on properly. Additionally, you'll want to have shoes that won't fall off—no flip-flops here! Worrying about lost footwear won't help you focus on the task and could put you in danger. Wearing all equipment and clothing properly will help you stay safe.
3. Get Familiar with the River Grading System
Not all rivers are created equal! Some are better for smooth, relaxing trips and others are rarely attempted by even the most hardcore rafters. How do you know what kind of river you're going to be rafting? That's where you'll want to be familiar with the river grading system. Each is rated from 1-6, with 1 being the very smoothest and 6 being incredibly dangerous. The river guide will be able to help choose a route best suited for your group but being familiar with the grading system yourself can help you speak up and avoid signing up for something above your comfort level. Knowing what level of river you're rafting will help you feel safer.
4. Start with a Short Trip
White water rafting trips can range anywhere from a few hours to a few days. If you're not the strongest swimmer and are unsure about how rafting will go for you, you will likely feel more comfortable and safe by trying a shorter trip first. So, if your friends want to go on a longer trip, perhaps you can insist on a shorter trip first, just to get the hang of everything. With some experience under your belt, you'll feel more confident about trying a longer trip another time.
Don't count yourself out of a white water rafting trip just because you could use a few more swimming lessons. There are so many ways to prepare and feel safe during the activity. For more information, contact a company that offers river rafting tours.