Skip to Content

White water rafting: What you need to know to minimize the risks

by  on  Car Accidents & Motor Vehicle Collisions

White water rafting is a hugely popular sport, and Colorado has some of the best rivers and rapids in the country on which to participate in it. But as with any adventure sport, white water rafting is inherently risky. Two recent deaths of white water rafters in Colorado rivers are tragic reminders of the need to take safety precautions and to never underestimate the power of the rivers.

Your Denver accident attorney cites inexperience as one of the biggest risk factors in white water rafting; rafters without enough experience try to tackle waters too difficult for them. All waters have a grading system using a scale of I to VI, with I being barely any rapids, and VI being extremely dangerous rapids. Rafters should stick to a level they know they can handle, and part of being able to handle the river is being able to swim the section where the rafting takes place. It is a good idea to take a swift water rescue course before white water rafting.

Although there is no way to eliminate all risk from white water rafting, your Denver accident attorney emphasizes that there are ways to reduce that risk. Most deaths from white water rafting occur among individuals using their own rafts and riding the rapids without a guide. Rafting with an experienced guide and team, or at least going on the first descent of a new river with a guide and team, reduces the risks associated with being caught in a situation that is over someone’s experience level. Wearing life vests and helmets, and avoiding areas where high runoff from the winter’s snowpack creates high water levels are additional ways to minimize the risks inherent in white water rafting.

While inexperience–either inexperience at white water rafting in general or inexperienced at the level of difficulty being attempted–causes most fatalities, injuries can happen for a variety of reasons. Rafters can hit objects while swimming -submersion injury; they can be hit by an object such as another rafter’s paddle – traumatic injury; they can suffer a heart attack – traumatic stress injury; or rafters can incur joint or muscle damage – overuse injuries. These types of injuries are rarely catastrophic, however. If proper safety precautions are followed, such as wearing helmets and life vests and being an able-bodied swimmer, and a seasoned guide exercises good judgment about the rapids chosen, then the risk of injuries and fatalities decreases enormously.

White water rafting is a big part of Colorado’s tourism industry; Colorado offers some of the most idyllic scenery and rivers for rafting that nature can provide. But the proper experience, equipment and level of rapids are crucial to avoiding harm. If you have been injured while white water rafting and would like to know more about your legal rights, contact Jordan Levine at the Levine Law firm today.