River Safety Basics

Read these Basic Minimum Standards for Water Based Activities from the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India:


1. Any company operating river running trips or commercial white water rafting trips must be registered with Indian Association of Professional Rafting Out tters/Adventure Tour Operators Association of India and Ministry of Tourism.

2. All trips on white water for tourists will be conducted with at least one qualified guide on each craft. A senior guide or trip leader must be present and supervise the activity at all times.

3. The Guide accompanying the trips should: (a) be at least 18 years of age; (b) be able to swim; (c) hold a valid rst aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certi cate or equivalent.

4. Training: Guide trainees should complete a course (or equivalent training) that equips them with the necessary skills and knowledge to safely and competently guide a raft. A guide training course should include the following topics: (a) skills -rafting techniques, crew training and management, emergency and rescue techniques. (b) knowledge - equipment, safety and emergency procedures, rapid theory, leadership, signals, environment protection

5. Recognition Experience: Guides should: (a) have guided a raft under the supervision of and to the satisfaction of a Trip Leader on at least ten white water runs within the past two years in rapids of the same class or higher than the run they intend to guide on; (b) complete a familiarization run on any new stretch of white water they intend to guide on; (c) maintain a log book recording each run and signed by the Trip leader as proof of experience; (d) should have good communication skills in Hindi and English

6. Special Requirements for Trip Leaders: Trip Leaders should: (a) have been quali ed guides for at least two years; (b) have a high level of guide skills and knowledge; (c) have a thorough knowledge of trip planning, white water rescue techniques, emergency procedures and advanced rst aid; (d) have guided a raft as a quali ed guide on at least twenty white water runs within the past two years in rapids of the same class or higher than the run they intend to lead on; (e) complete a familiarization run and know the evacuation routes on any new stretch of white water they intend to lead on; (f) should have excellent communication skills in Hindi and English.

7. Single Raft Trips: Some of the worst accidents in river running internationally have occurred where there has been only one raft. There should always be at least two crafts on the water i.e, two rafts or kayaks or a raft and a safety kayak. This may be relaxed for oat trips (maximum grade II) in the case of rafts. For kayaks a minimum of two or preferably three is always recommended. Safety Kayaks must be mandatory on technical rapids grade IV and beyond. In case on continuous white water sections, one should look at a minimum of one kayak per raft, if not more.

8. Kit: All trips must carry a well- equipped First Aid kit (it must have triangular bandages, sterile pads, gauze roller bandages, pressure bandages, first aid adhesive tape, splints, scissors as bare minimum), a repair kit (it must contain approx. half meter of repair material, a sufficient amount of ue and accelerator, sand paper or roughing tool and waterproof repair tape/ duck tape). Oar rafts must carry at least one spare oar. All rafts must have a safety line going all around the raft, a bow- line and preferably a stern line as well. All rafts must have a throw bag and a bailing bucket (in case of non self bailer bucket boats). A flip line is recommended for all big drops.

9. Personal River Equipment: All rafters/ kayakers must have a life jacket on all times while on water. This includes the guides also. The life jackets must have adequate buoyancy (minimum of 6.14 kgs, and preferably 9 – 10 kgs.), must be the proper type (U.S. coast Guard Type III or V) with a provision of ensuring a snug t by straps etc. and the life jacket must be worn correctly. In atable life jackets and the ‘keyhole’ type jackets should not be allowed. Guides must ensure that the life jackets are on in a secure manner before the trip starts and above all major drops. Helmets are mandatory on all rapids and it is recommended that helmets be kept on throughout the trip. The helmet should be properly strapped. Rafts must be of good condition with no leakage or compartment damage. A baf e / compartment in ation check must be carried out at regular intervals to ensure that each compartment is air tight with no leaks. A minimum of 14 – 16 feet boats are recommended for commercial rafting. Self bailing rafts are recommended.

10. Age Limit: Fourteen years on all stretches except oat trips (grade II and below), where it may be relaxed to ten years.

11. Non Swimmers: Non swimmers should not be allowed on any serious rapid (grade III +/IV)/ or hard section.

12. Safety Briefing:Guides/tripleadermustensurethatathorough safety briefing covering all pertinent details for that particular trip is given before each trip. The trip leader must ensure that clients are in suitable attire (bulky clothes, sarees, neck ties, long skirts and three piece suits should not be permitted). People suffering from any serious ailments, weak heart conditions, epilepsy and expecting mothers should not be allowed. Non-swimmers should be allowed to body surf only with rope back up. Shoes/appropriate sandals/ booties are a must for rafting. Appropriate clothing must be worn during winter/on glacial melt rivers with cold air temperatures. For such rivers, dry suits/ wet suits are recommended. If not, light woolens/synthetic clothes are a must. Trips must be timed carefully to finish at least an hour before sunset.

13. AlcoholandDrugs:Consumingalcoholinanyformorquantity or illicit drugs at least six hours prior to the river trip must not be allowed.

14. Familiarization Runs: One or two familiarization runs before operating commercially each season or on new rivers is recommended. Rivers should not be run commercially at flood levels.

15. Foreign Guides: Foreign Guides must be aware of the Indian SafetyRegulationsbeforebeingallowedto operate. Theymust fulfill the required criteria and should do a few familiarisation runs on the river and equipment before being allowed to operate commercially. A valid first aid certificate is a must.

16. Senior Guide: A senior guide must have spent at least three consecutive seasons on any of the above three rivers with a minimum of sixty days on the river per season. He must have all requisite first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) qualifications and must have a clean safety record. A senior guide must have river- running experience on at least three different rivers.

17. Safety Kayaker: A safety and rescue kayaker must be thoroughly trained and experienced in all safety norms, river rescue and first aid/cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. Aminimumofthirtydaysontheriverismandatory before kayaking with commercial trips.