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  • Writer's pictureCalibre Engineering

How to Have Fun & Stay Safe on the Water


There's nothing quite like spending a summer day on the river with friends - the sun on your face, the cool water at your feet, and the gentle sounds of nature all around you. But while the river can be a blast, it's important to remember that it can also be dangerous if you don't take the proper precautions.


Scott Shipley, a three-time Olympic veteran, World Cup winner in slalom kayaking and Calibre's S2O Whitewater Division Manager, understands this better than most. Scott is passionate about creating community spaces for river recreation that promote community engagement and enjoyment while also promoting safety.


Here are some of Scott's best practices for having fun on the water while staying safe:

Always wear a life jacket or personal flotation device No matter how experienced you are, always wear a life jacket or personal flotation device. Even strong swimmers can get into trouble on the water, and a life jacket can make all the difference. 

Make a plan Pick put-in and take-out spots a reasonable distance apart and stick to your plan. Let someone on shore know your plan and when you expect to return. 

Know the river and its levels Rivers go up and down with flow rates, so it's important to only go on days with reasonable flows. Don't take unnecessary risks by floating on a river that is too high or too low.

Go when it's warm A river trip is never fun on a cold day, and should something go wrong, the cold is going to turn a bad bit of luck into a terrible bit of luck. Choose a day when the weather is warm and sunny for the best experience. 

Avoid danger Make sure you are capable of navigating the section you are on. Know that logs are likely the most dangerous thing you see on the river. Avoid any areas with strong currents or obstacles that could cause an accident. 

Go with a group and tell others where you went Rely on the buddy system, and if you can, leave a paper trail. It's always safer to float with a group and make sure someone on shore knows where you are going and when you expect to return. 

Wear sunscreen and have fun Rivers are beautiful, fun, challenging, and fulfilling. Put on a little sunscreen, spend some time with friends, and enjoy your day! 


By following these best practices, you can have a safe and enjoyable time on the water. Remember that accidents can happen, even to the most experienced paddlers, so always be prepared and take the necessary precautions. Stay safe and happy paddling!

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