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The importance of river safety: Why you must NEVER tie rafts together

Do NOT tie your rafts, kayaks, or tubes together for a float down the river with your friends. This practice may be safe on lakes and other rivers; however, the Bow River has several aspects that make this dangerous:

  1. a group of people riding on the back of a boat in the waterDifficulty in maneuvering: Rafts tied together become very difficult to maneuver as their size increases and steering agility is substantially diminished; making it very challenging to avoid objects like bridge pillars, fallen debris, sharp riverbed rocks, and other water hazards.
  2. Bridge pillars and currents: Currents, especially around bridge pillars, pose a significant danger and are often underestimated because of the Bow River’s seemingly tranquil appearance. Hitting bridge pillars when tied together can cause rafts to capsize and trap individuals between bridge pillars and the rafts, leading to severe injury or loss of life. It’s crucial to recognize that no river is entirely safe during your journey, necessitating constant vigilance, especially near bridge pillars where currents are strongest.

Staying close to your friends/family on the river is possible without having to risk your life. There are safe alternatives to keep your group close together such as holding the handles located on the side of the rafts or holding onto separate ends of paddles between rafts. Ropes in safety kits are for rescue purposes only and should NEVER be used to tie rafts together.

By following simple rules and common sense, we can all stay safe on the Bow!

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