How to Stay in a White Water Raft (What if You Fall Out?)

How to Not Fall Out White Water Rafting

Imagine, you’re whitewater rafting down a rushing river. You’re bounced back and forth, excitement overtakes you, and you almost fall out of the raft. Can you avoid falling out of the raft though? What can you do to stay in a white water raft?

How to stay in a white water raft? To stay in a white water raft, make sure that you are properly seated with your butt on the outer tube and feet tucked into the foot cups or tube. Most importantly, remember the commands your river guide teaches you, and perform them as your guide calls them out. If you do fall out, don’t panic.

White water rafting is fun and adventurous. Just make sure you know how to stay in the raft! If you do fall off though, there are certain procedures you should follow to stay safe.

Amazon and Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means we will earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) on the products or services you purchase using the links.

How do you stay in the raft when white water rafting?

Staying in the white water raft comes down to two major factors: making sure you are seated correctly and listening to what your guide says and performing their commands as quickly as possible.

Here are the steps to properly sit in the white water raft:

  • Sit your butt on the outer tube, slightly in front of a cross tube.
  • Place your outside leg under the tube directly in front of you. If you are at the front, use the foot cups instead.
  • Nestle your inner leg against the cross tube to give you support, although it will not tuck under the tube like your outer foot will.
  • Paddle hard! Paddling hard will help keep you stable and in the boat.

This is often called a “tripod position” in the white water rafting world.

If you are a visual learner, here is a video from American Adventure Expeditions that shows you how to sit in the raft.

Know the Terms and Listen to Your Guide

Before you go out rafting, any reputable white water rafting company should give you a quick lesson on how to be safe on the river. In that lesson, they should give you a rundown on some commands to listen for.

These commands will help you stay safe and in the raft. So, why not get ahead of the game and learn some of these common phrases now? (Note: terminology may slightly differ from company to company).

First, there are padding commands:

  • Forward Paddle: You will need to be in a tripod position and place most weight on your feet. Paddle strong and in motion with the other members of your boat. Make sure that you get the whole paddle blade in the water.
  • Back Paddle: Lean forward and have the paddle shaft on your hip with your inner arm extended, holding the T-grip. The blade of the paddle, before the stroke, is out of the water behind you. Then, drop the paddle blade in the water and move your body backward pulling the T grip, pushing the paddle blade forward.
  • Turns: If you hear right turn, anyone on the right side of the boat should back paddle. People on the left forward paddle. It is just the opposite for a left turn.
  • Stop: Remove the paddles from the water and stop paddling.

Some commands help balance the raft:

  • Get Down: Get off the edge of the raft and sit on the inside, while holding the paddle with both hands. It gets the weight off the edge which makes the boat more stable for large rapids.
  • Back on The Job: This is just the command to get back on the normal paddle position
  • High Side: This commend tells you to put more weight on one side of the raft. This is to help avoid obstacles such as rocks.

So, to avoid going in the water, remember to sit correctly and follow instructions. Although following this is not a guarantee that you won’t fall out, you will minimize that risk.

What to do If You Fall Out of a White Water Raft

Even when people follow all these instructions, they still sometimes fall out of the raft. Don’t feel bad if you fall out. The waters you are on are pretty intense, and even the best rafters fall out sometimes.

If you do fall into the rapids, there are some steps that you can take to remain safe:

  • Stay calm. Panicking will make you disorientated and cause you to make mistakes. Instead, stay calm, get your bearings, and focus on getting back into the raft.
  • Never stand in the rapids. If you stand up, your feet could get caught in a rock, resulting in a foot entrapment. This could cause you to be pushed down into the water, unable to resurface.
  • If you come out of the water next to the raft, grab onto the raft or the safety rope that is around it (if they have one). Face toward the raft when someone comes to pull you in. This makes it easier to kick yourself back up into the raft. You will also be able to see the person pulling you in which allows you to work with them as they pull you back into the raft.
  • When you fall in, and as you are being lifted, immediately raise your legs toward the surface of the water, with your toes above the surface.

The riverbed has rocks that your leg could smash against and crevices your foot could get stuck in. If you forget everything else, make sure you keep both your NOSE and TOES out of the water. By keeping those out of the water and your PFD on, very few bad accidents happen.

Sometimes, you may be swept away from the raft. If that happens, remember to remain calm and follow these steps, and any other ones that your guide may teach you:

  • Again, raise your legs so your toes are out of the water. Lay on your back, with your face above the surface, and point your legs downstream. Also, put your arms to the side.

Facing downriver allows you to see what is ahead. Having your arms to the side allows you to slow yourself and maneuver in the water away from obstacles.

  • Pay attention to where the raft is. If you are close enough, watch for someone handing you a paddle to pull you in. If you are within 75 feet, watch for someone throwing you the rescue rope. When it is thrown, grab the rope, not the bag, and put it over your shoulder. As you are pulled in, face away from the raft and stay on your back so you don’t get a face full of water.
  • If you are more than 75 feet from the raft, do not worry. The rapids will calm down eventually. When it is calm, flip on your stomach and swim to shore. If it gets rough again, flip on your back again and wait for it to calm down. If there is a long stretch of calm water, then you can swim to shore on your back too. Only stand up when you are in very shallow water. Then, go onshore and wait for rescuers to come for you.
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Falling in the water may be a scary experience, but you should be safe as long as you follow these instructions and any others that your guide may give you.

Other Safety Tips

There are other safety tips that you should know before you head out on your whitewater adventure.

  • Make sure your helmet fits well and covers your forehead. Also, do not take it off when you are on the water.
  • The same goes for your life jacket. Make sure it fits well and all straps, including the ‘gut buster’, located at the very bottom of the jacket, is clipped.
  • Always hold the “T” grip on your paddle. This prevents others from being hit by the end of your paddle.
  • Know how to help others if they fall off the boat. The best way to pull someone in is to hold them by the shoulders of their lifejacket, straighten your arms, and fall back into the boat, pulling them into the raft and on top of you.
  • Staying hydrated is vital so that you don’t get sick from dehydration. Yep, dehydration can even happen on the water.
  • Notify your group leader of any medical conditions you have before going out.
  • Unless you are experienced and have others to go out with, only raft with a group run by a reputable rafting company.
  • If you are experienced enough to go out without a guide, have people go with you. This will make it much more fun and a lot safer.
  • Also, tell others (people who are not going with you) where you are going, the route you are planning, and where you are going to end the trip. That way, they know where to look if you get lost or injured.

How to Stay in a Whitewater Raft Summary

White Water rafting is a great adventure to take with friends, family, or even strangers. No one wants to fall in though! So, knowing how to stay in by having the correct sitting position and following instructions is vital.

Also, if you fall off the raft, remember to stay calm and follow the procedures to get back in. If you can’t get back in, then remember to float downriver with your legs above the water, feet first, and arms to the side. Get to shore and wait for the rescuers.

Most important though, remember to have fun and make the most of your rafting adventure!

I’m Steve, the research and technology workhorse behind Paddle Camp. I do tons of research on all our family’s paddling gear before I buy or recommend anything. I grew up canoeing with my dad and brother. A few years ago I bought paddle boards for my daughters, myself, and my wife. Ever since then, we plan most of our vacations around kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding.

Related Articles

Traveling down river rapids in a rubber boat can seem quite intimidating and even scary at first. However, white water rafting is a wildly popular, thrilling and adventurous experience.

White water rafting is an excellent adventure sport to try! Here’s how to make your first white water rafting trip a success.

About Us

We love paddling! We all remember being beginners and having no clue what kayak, canoe, or SUP to buy. Nor did we understand all the rafting gear, paddling laws, and how-to paddle info we’d need to get started. So we built Paddle Camp to help you navigate the often confusing world of kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding, and river rafting.

LEGAL INFORMATION

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Paddle Camp is a participant in various affiliate networks, including AvantLink, CJ, and others. Paddle Camp is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

How to Stay in a White Water Raft (What if You Fall Out?)

How to Not Fall Out White Water Rafting

Imagine, you’re whitewater rafting down a rushing river. You’re bounced back and forth, excitement overtakes you, and you almost fall out of the raft. Can you avoid falling out of the raft though? What can you do to stay in a white water raft?

How to stay in a white water raft? To stay in a white water raft, make sure that you are properly seated with your butt on the outer tube and feet tucked into the foot cups or tube. Most importantly, remember the commands your river guide teaches you, and perform them as your guide calls them out. If you do fall out, don’t panic.

White water rafting is fun and adventurous. Just make sure you know how to stay in the raft! If you do fall off though, there are certain procedures you should follow to stay safe.

Amazon and Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means we will earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) on the products or services you purchase using the links.

How do you stay in the raft when white water rafting?

Staying in the white water raft comes down to two major factors: making sure you are seated correctly and listening to what your guide says and performing their commands as quickly as possible.

Here are the steps to properly sit in the white water raft:

  • Sit your butt on the outer tube, slightly in front of a cross tube.
  • Place your outside leg under the tube directly in front of you. If you are at the front, use the foot cups instead.
  • Nestle your inner leg against the cross tube to give you support, although it will not tuck under the tube like your outer foot will.
  • Paddle hard! Paddling hard will help keep you stable and in the boat.

This is often called a “tripod position” in the white water rafting world.

If you are a visual learner, here is a video from American Adventure Expeditions that shows you how to sit in the raft.

Know the Terms and Listen to Your Guide

Before you go out rafting, any reputable white water rafting company should give you a quick lesson on how to be safe on the river. In that lesson, they should give you a rundown on some commands to listen for.

These commands will help you stay safe and in the raft. So, why not get ahead of the game and learn some of these common phrases now? (Note: terminology may slightly differ from company to company).

First, there are padding commands:

  • Forward Paddle: You will need to be in a tripod position and place most weight on your feet. Paddle strong and in motion with the other members of your boat. Make sure that you get the whole paddle blade in the water.
  • Back Paddle: Lean forward and have the paddle shaft on your hip with your inner arm extended, holding the T-grip. The blade of the paddle, before the stroke, is out of the water behind you. Then, drop the paddle blade in the water and move your body backward pulling the T grip, pushing the paddle blade forward.
  • Turns: If you hear right turn, anyone on the right side of the boat should back paddle. People on the left forward paddle. It is just the opposite for a left turn.
  • Stop: Remove the paddles from the water and stop paddling.

Some commands help balance the raft:

  • Get Down: Get off the edge of the raft and sit on the inside, while holding the paddle with both hands. It gets the weight off the edge which makes the boat more stable for large rapids.
  • Back on The Job: This is just the command to get back on the normal paddle position
  • High Side: This commend tells you to put more weight on one side of the raft. This is to help avoid obstacles such as rocks.

So, to avoid going in the water, remember to sit correctly and follow instructions. Although following this is not a guarantee that you won’t fall out, you will minimize that risk.

What to do If You Fall Out of a White Water Raft

Even when people follow all these instructions, they still sometimes fall out of the raft. Don’t feel bad if you fall out. The waters you are on are pretty intense, and even the best rafters fall out sometimes.

Read Post  How to Become a River Rafting Guide

If you do fall into the rapids, there are some steps that you can take to remain safe:

  • Stay calm. Panicking will make you disorientated and cause you to make mistakes. Instead, stay calm, get your bearings, and focus on getting back into the raft.
  • Never stand in the rapids. If you stand up, your feet could get caught in a rock, resulting in a foot entrapment. This could cause you to be pushed down into the water, unable to resurface.
  • If you come out of the water next to the raft, grab onto the raft or the safety rope that is around it (if they have one). Face toward the raft when someone comes to pull you in. This makes it easier to kick yourself back up into the raft. You will also be able to see the person pulling you in which allows you to work with them as they pull you back into the raft.
  • When you fall in, and as you are being lifted, immediately raise your legs toward the surface of the water, with your toes above the surface.

The riverbed has rocks that your leg could smash against and crevices your foot could get stuck in. If you forget everything else, make sure you keep both your NOSE and TOES out of the water. By keeping those out of the water and your PFD on, very few bad accidents happen.

Sometimes, you may be swept away from the raft. If that happens, remember to remain calm and follow these steps, and any other ones that your guide may teach you:

  • Again, raise your legs so your toes are out of the water. Lay on your back, with your face above the surface, and point your legs downstream. Also, put your arms to the side.

Facing downriver allows you to see what is ahead. Having your arms to the side allows you to slow yourself and maneuver in the water away from obstacles.

  • Pay attention to where the raft is. If you are close enough, watch for someone handing you a paddle to pull you in. If you are within 75 feet, watch for someone throwing you the rescue rope. When it is thrown, grab the rope, not the bag, and put it over your shoulder. As you are pulled in, face away from the raft and stay on your back so you don’t get a face full of water.
  • If you are more than 75 feet from the raft, do not worry. The rapids will calm down eventually. When it is calm, flip on your stomach and swim to shore. If it gets rough again, flip on your back again and wait for it to calm down. If there is a long stretch of calm water, then you can swim to shore on your back too. Only stand up when you are in very shallow water. Then, go onshore and wait for rescuers to come for you.

Falling in the water may be a scary experience, but you should be safe as long as you follow these instructions and any others that your guide may give you.

Other Safety Tips

There are other safety tips that you should know before you head out on your whitewater adventure.

  • Make sure your helmet fits well and covers your forehead. Also, do not take it off when you are on the water.
  • The same goes for your life jacket. Make sure it fits well and all straps, including the ‘gut buster’, located at the very bottom of the jacket, is clipped.
  • Always hold the “T” grip on your paddle. This prevents others from being hit by the end of your paddle.
  • Know how to help others if they fall off the boat. The best way to pull someone in is to hold them by the shoulders of their lifejacket, straighten your arms, and fall back into the boat, pulling them into the raft and on top of you.
  • Staying hydrated is vital so that you don’t get sick from dehydration. Yep, dehydration can even happen on the water.
  • Notify your group leader of any medical conditions you have before going out.
  • Unless you are experienced and have others to go out with, only raft with a group run by a reputable rafting company.
  • If you are experienced enough to go out without a guide, have people go with you. This will make it much more fun and a lot safer.
  • Also, tell others (people who are not going with you) where you are going, the route you are planning, and where you are going to end the trip. That way, they know where to look if you get lost or injured.

How to Stay in a Whitewater Raft Summary

White Water rafting is a great adventure to take with friends, family, or even strangers. No one wants to fall in though! So, knowing how to stay in by having the correct sitting position and following instructions is vital.

Also, if you fall off the raft, remember to stay calm and follow the procedures to get back in. If you can’t get back in, then remember to float downriver with your legs above the water, feet first, and arms to the side. Get to shore and wait for the rescuers.

Most important though, remember to have fun and make the most of your rafting adventure!

I’m Steve, the research and technology workhorse behind Paddle Camp. I do tons of research on all our family’s paddling gear before I buy or recommend anything. I grew up canoeing with my dad and brother. A few years ago I bought paddle boards for my daughters, myself, and my wife. Ever since then, we plan most of our vacations around kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding.

Related Articles

Traveling down river rapids in a rubber boat can seem quite intimidating and even scary at first. However, white water rafting is a wildly popular, thrilling and adventurous experience.

White water rafting is an excellent adventure sport to try! Here’s how to make your first white water rafting trip a success.

About Us

We love paddling! We all remember being beginners and having no clue what kayak, canoe, or SUP to buy. Nor did we understand all the rafting gear, paddling laws, and how-to paddle info we’d need to get started. So we built Paddle Camp to help you navigate the often confusing world of kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding, and river rafting.

LEGAL INFORMATION

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Paddle Camp is a participant in various affiliate networks, including AvantLink, CJ, and others. Paddle Camp is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

What to Do if You Fall Out While Rafting

The first question to be answered when considering white water rafting is, ‘What happens if I fall out of the raft?’ It is understandable for first-timers to worry. As long as there is a professional guide, there is little cause for concern. They are familiar with safety procedures. During a safety talk, every person on the raft has a safety briefing before reaching the river. This article provides tips on how to be safe if an unexpected plunge occurs.

What to Do if You Fall Out While Rafting

Falling from the Raft is Normal

It is okay if you fall out of the raft. A white water rafting trip usually involves people who happen to fall out of the raft. Some rafters think it is the fun part of rafting. There is some risk, but it is no more dangerous than driving a car or swimming in the ocean. Staying cautious and alert is needed for all of these activities.

Remember that an experienced guide and a raft load of people help pull you back on the raft if you fall into the river. The life jacket used in white water rafting is an excellent flotation device. In most cases, rafters who fall off the raft are pulled back into the raft immediately.

Listen to the Guide

Guides receive extensive training to keep you safe and attend to your needs. They undergo 14 days of intense training. After completing the course, they guide commercial trips alongside a more experienced instructor. The instructor assesses the performance of the trainee as they receive further instruction. After a minimum of 20 trips, the trainee becomes a professional guide by leading a solo white water adventure.

You minimize the chance of falling overboard if you listen to the guide. Listen if the guide says to grip the raft tightly with both hands. Do not pull out your cell phone to capture a picture or overestimate your strength. A common cause of someone falling overboard is they try to take a video while gripping the boat with one hand.

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There are times when the raft flips over regardless of how firmly you hold on to it. It is a normal situation and no cause for concern. You want to take action toward your rescue. Recall what the guide said during the safety talk. Look out for a rope and instructions from the guide. Focus on swimming to the shore or getting back on the raft. The guide will advise as to the appropriate option.

What to Do If You Fall from the Raft

  1. Hang on to the paddle if possible
  2. Grab the raft
  3. Face the raft during the rescue
  4. Bring legs up to the surface
  5. Point feet downstream
  6. Look for a rope
  7. Wait for calm waters

Why Follow These Guidelines

After falling, grab the side of the raft with your arms as soon as possible. If there is a safety rope, grab it. Hold firmly until the guide or other rafters pull you back onto the boat. When pulled on the raft, face the rescue crew. They should pull your face first. That position allows bending at the waist as they pull you over the side.

The position lets you see the rescuer. You assist by grabbing the rope or someone’s paddle to pull yourself. This position makes kicking your feet in the water easier, which helps get in the raft. Not facing the raft causes the back to arch awkwardly and you will not be able to pull or kick.

If you are swept away by the current, immediately position the legs up to the surface and remain calm. The narrow opening of the riverbed can trap you. It is more dangerous than waves at the surface. Memorize the slogan ‘nose and toes.’ It helps remember your nose and toes need to be above water.

The feet and toes should float above water. They should face downstream. Have your arms at your sides to help you slow down and maneuver. If you are close to the raft, someone may extend a paddle. Grab it, face the raft, and have them pull you onto the raft.

If you are within 75 feet of the raft, the guide will throw a rope at you. Grab it and keep it above your shoulder. As you are being pulled, face the back of the raft. It prevents water from getting into your mouth as they pull.

What Not to Do If You Fall from the Boat

  1. Do not panic.
  2. Do not stand up in the rapids.
  3. Do not swim against the current.
  4. Do not let go of the paddle.

Reasons to Avoid the Above Activities

Though it can be alarming to be thrown into a raging, cold river, try to stay calm. You do not have a clear head if you panic. It will take longer to get you back on the boat. Never stand up in a rapid, even in calm sections of the water. If you stand in a rapid, you risk getting your feet caught in a crevice between rocks on the bottom of the river. It could cause serious injury.

Swim quickly toward the shore. Stay on the shore until rescuers arrive. River currents are stronger than rafters. You quickly become exhausted and are at risk of injury if you attempt to swim against the current. You probably will not give much thought to your paddle, if you fall into the river. It is easier for others to help you back onto the boat if you hold on to it.

How Do I Stay in a White Water Boat?

To remain in a whitewater raft:

  1. Ensure that you get a good foot placement with your butt in front of the external tube and cover your legs.
  2. Remember that the command your river guide teaches you and do it exactly as the guide says.
  3. If you fall from your raft, stay calm. If you are in any danger, there are some steps you should take to stay safe.

The guide gives instructions that must be followed. If a raft is going to hit a rock, the guide calls out ‘bump.’ All people on the rafting place the ‘T’ grip of the paddle on the floor of the boat. They keep their hand on top of the paddle grip. When executed properly, everyone stays on the raft. Listening to the guide can mean the difference between falling overboard or staying in the raft.

Choose a Licensed and Professional Whitewater Rafting Outfitter

The decision on a whitewater rafting company involves many factors. It depends on the river, the difficulty, and the length of the trips. You want a trustworthy whitewater rafting company that makes whitewater rafting a memory of a lifetime.

Every group wants to have fun, be safe, experience a bit of adventure, see a new perspective of nature, and gain insight into themselves. They may want to experience the rapids. A foot in the right direction is finding the right guide and trip experience to enjoy whitewater rafting.

When you call about an excursion and company ask these questions.

  • How safe is the trip?
  • What is the age, fitness level, adventure level, and experience of the group?
  • What equipment is provided?
  • How experienced are the guides?
  • What other activities are there?
  • Are there multiple rafting trip choices?

The Outerwear for the Day

Wearing a wet suit, a water jacket, and water-proof shoes will make the trip comfortable. Remember, sunburn can occur in lower elevations quickly and can be severe. Raft Masters offers sunscreen, sunglasses, and straps to protect from sun glare.

A flotation device is gear that hopefully is not needed but always worn. Even experienced rafters wear them. A flotation device provides an extra safety margin. Flotation devices are called PFD (Personal Flotation Device), life vests. and life jacket. They are used interchangeably. Comfort and fit are the criteria of most importance. They need to stay on and not interfere in the ability to move in the river, your vision, or your breathing. It is kept on 100 percent of the time.

The Outerwear for the Day

Class Levels of Rafting Trips

There are factors to consider when choosing a trip location. Knowing the different grades and the classification of the river helps guests make an informed trip decision. White water adventure is categorized into different classes or grades of difficulty.

The grades are based on factors that determine the comfort level. Most lower grades are excellent for inexperienced or those new to rafting. Higher grades require some skill to ensure the enjoyment and safety of the participants. The classes include

  • Grade 1: Slight and limited rough areas – small maneuvering could be required. It is perfect for the new or nervous.
  • Grade 2: Rough river sections and possibly some rocks. Requires basic paddling skills, suitable for new participants.
  • Grade 3: Moderate white water and rapids. Requires more skills and maneuvering.
  • Grade 4: Some drops, medium-sized wavers, white water. Maneuvering and experience are extremely helpful.
  • Grade 5: More and larger waves, more white water. Precise maneuvers make experience necessary.

The scale often breaks down into – and + categories that depend on whether a river is on the difficult or easy end of the grade spectrum. Classes change if the flow to the water is higher, often due to heavy rain.

Summary- How to Stay in a Whitewater Raft

Whitewater rafts are a great adventure to take with friends, family, or even strangers. It is imperative to know how the correct posture will hold you and to follow instructions. Whether you fall off the raft or come back out following the instruction tips, remember to float downstream with legs above the sea, feet first, and hands down at a distance. Go back onshore and wait for the rescuers.

Lastly, remember always to have fun and make the best of our rafting experience! Steve W is the researcher and technology engineer for Paddle Camp. I do plenty of research before I buy any equipment for our family paddling school. Contact us with any questions you may have about our services.

Source https://paddlecamp.com/how-to-not-fall-out-white-water-rafting/#:~:text=When%20it%20is%20thrown,%20grab%20the%20rope,%20not,75%20feet%20from%20the%20raft,%20do%20not%20worry.

Source https://paddlecamp.com/how-to-not-fall-out-white-water-rafting/

Source https://www.advantagegrandcanyon.com/fall-out-while-rafting/

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