Paddling Safety

Safe paddling requires preparation, proper equipment, and experience.

It is critical that paddlers understand the distinction between the Levels of Difficulty or Class of river sections so they can choose the sections to paddle safely. The classification levels of difficulty of rapids in this guide are based on normal in-season flow levels.

Proper Equipment

• Wear a properly fitted PFD (personal flotation device or life jacket) while on the water, and
   wear a helmet in whitewater. For information on PFDs see

• Be sure to have appropriate flotation in your boat.

• If attaching equipment to the boat, avoid entanglements by using recommended ties.

• Dress appropriately for weather and water conditions, including air and water temperature.
  Avoid hypothermia, and carry spare dry clothes. River footwear is advised, especially in
  whitewater sections.

• Carry a supply of food and water adequate for the trip.

• In whitewater, carry rescue equipment and know how to use it.
  See Safety Information under "Resources- General Information" tab.

Gear Checklist

Always wear a life jacket with a whistle. In Oregon, children under 13 years are required by law to wear life jackets when in boats that are underway. Bring extra clothing and keep it in a dry bag. Do not wear cotton—use polypropylene and fleece in cool weather.
Consider taking the following for a day trip:

• Extra paddle
• Extra clothes
• Dry bag for valuables, food, and clothes
• Hat with brim
• Sunglasses
• Knife
• First aid kit
• River guide
• Snacks
• Plenty of drinking water
• River shoes
• Safety whistle
• Suntan lotion
• Pump for inflatables
• Fire starter

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