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White Water Rafting
Whitewater rafting is a popular outdoors recreational activity in which participants navigate fast rivers while sitting on large inflatable rafts. Whitewater rafting began to gain popularity during the 1970's and is still considered one of the most enjoyable recreational activities to partake in today. Most whitewater rafting takes place on rougher patches of water, otherwise known as "whitewater." The activity is usually pursued by thrill-seekers who hope to experience excitement while traversing river rapids.
Although whitewater rafting is typically an exciting activity, it can quickly become one of the most dangerous sports if certain safety precautions are not taken. Commercial and private raft operators are required to follow a number of regulations to ensure the safety of all whitewater rafters. These safety regulations concern the quality of the whitewater rafts and the other equipment used on whitewater rafting trips as well as the qualifications and expertise of the whitewater rafting guides. Having faulty equipment or an inexperienced guide can easily lead to a life-threatening situation, even in the calmest of water.
Common whitewater rafting risks typically fall under one of two main categories: environmental risks and improper behavior while on the raft. Environmental risks of whitewater rafting may include dams, strainers (such as fallen trees), strong current, keeper hydraulics and extremely low or high water levels. To minimize environmental risks, whitewater raft operators carefully observe various river locations and avoid areas prone to the conditions listed above. In the end though, the best way to avoid these risks is to choose an experienced whitewater raft operator and follow all directions that he or she may give you.
To avoid whitewater rafting accidents, a good whitewater raft operator will give a thorough explanation of how the whitewater raft is operated, environmental conditions and personal behaviour that may lead to accidents, and all the rules that rafters must follow in order to minimize the possibility of experiencing a life-threatening situation while whitewater rafting. The overall risk of injury or death will be low if your whitewater rafting guide understands the importance of thoroughly explaining rules and procedures.
Most whitewater raft operators require participants to sign waiver forms. This is not done to scare rafters, but instead to increase awareness of the potential risks and to emphasize the importance of following safety precautions. Signing waivers and observing safety demonstrations given by qualified raft operators are the most effective ways to keep whitewater rafting risks minimal.