Safety on the Rivers
Trip Planning Tips
- Check USGS river gages, weather forecasts, and rain in upstream areas to avoid hazardous river levels. Access the Dan River Basin Association online resource to view gages.
- Know your route and locations of dams and other hazards; steer clear of strainers such as downed trees. Use this guide to know where to take off the river in case of an emergency. File a float plan before you go.
- Plan to paddle with others. Know the limitations of the group and yourself.
- Hypothermia contributes to most boating deaths. Wear a wetsuit or drysuit if air and water temperatures combined total less than 120 degrees.
- Dress in synthetic layers that will insulate when wet; carry extra layers in a dry bag.
On the Water
- Always wear your life jacket when on the water. A type III PFD is recommended for paddling.
- Carry a spare paddle and whistle; know and use paddle and whistle signals.
- When entering or exiting a canoe use three points of contact with the boat and land using hands and feet.
- Use caution when launching or landing in muddy or rocky areas.
- When paddling in wind, stay close to the shore in the lee of the wind.
- If you capsize, stay calm. Hold onto boat and paddle and move to shallow water.
- To prevent foot entrapment, do not attempt to stand up in moving water deeper than knee deep. In flowing water, float on back and keep feet downstream.
Leave No Trace & Wildlife Ethics
- Leave the river and shoreline cleaner than you find them.
- Respect private property.
- Respect the rights of anglers.
- Leave rocks and plants as you find them.
- Carry out your trash.
- Respect wildlife; stay clear of nests, dens, and rookeries.
- Human food is unhealthy for wildlife. Please do not share your food with animals.
- Camp on existing sites and avoid trampling plants.
- Use fire rings; make sure fires are out and cold before leaving.