Four rafters had to be rescued from the Eagle River Saturday near Edwards. The raft high centered on a rock in the middle of the river standing the rafters. It took rescue crews a couple hours to retrieve the rafters and pull the raft off the rock. The Eagle County Fire Department noted that only one of the rescued rafters was wearing a life vest. While people often get stuck in rivers, the danger presented by three of the four rafters not wearing life jackets could have been avoided. As rivers in Northwest Colorado are near peak run-off, extremely cold water with strong undertows may present a challenge to even the most experience rafters. Photos of the rescue courtesy of the Eagle River Fire Protection District, click to enlarge.
A complete list of river rafting safety tips is available below.
- Wear your life jacket and proper headgear! It’s always possible to capsize in any water condition.
- Assure that your water craft was intended for white water travel and understand the capabilities and limitations of the raft, kayak, or other equipment that you are using. Know the capabilities and limitations of your companions as well.
- Know the water conditions. Conditions can be very different from day to day and it’s important to know what to expect. If in doubt, get out and scout!
- Beware of Strainers. Strainers are fallen trees, bridge pilings, undercut rocks or anything else that allows the current to flow through it while holding you. Strainers are deadly!
- Carry identification that includes your name, phone number, pertinent medical information, and emergency contact information in a waterproof bag. You can also store your cell phone and camera in the bag. Equipment should be labeled with a name and phone number to make it easier to return lost and stolen equipment.
- Before you leave, make sure you know where you are going. It is also a good idea to tell a responsible person about your plans of where you will be and when you expect to return.
- Check the weather forecast before you leave for your destination so that you can pack the proper equipment. Dress appropriately for weather conditions. Carry extra clothes in a dry bag in case you flip and go for a swim. Hypothermia can be deadly.
- Never go boating or tubing while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Make sure you bring drinking water and stay hydrated.
- Plan for emergencies and carry basic first aid. Learn rescue skills necessary to assist others. If you lose equipment, call the non-emergency number for dispatch (970-479-2200) with a detailed description of what piece of equipment was lost and where it was last seen. This helps ensure emergency responders are only dispatched to true rescue situations.