Madelyn’s Safety Talk Outline

I. PERSONAL SAFETY

    A. Gather group in circle. Get all eyes and ears.
    B. Introduce everyone. Identify trip leader and other guides, as well.
    C. Life jackets:
        1. Have everyone get in one. Demonstrate proper fit and fitting.
        2. Adjust and check fit of all lifejackets.
        3. Check all lifejackets for loose lines.
        4. Gather group's attention again. Explain that it's better to go down the river in a life jacket without a raft than in a raft without a life jacket. Explain that only paddle captains may give the signal for life jackets to come off.
    D. Body Problems:
        1. Mention the need to secure chapstick and sun lotion somewhere in the raft and to reapply frequently.
        2. If the day is very hot, describe heat exhaustion and ask each person to pick a buddy in his raft and watch him for symptoms.
        3. If hypothermia is a probable danger, describe its symptoms and set up a buddy system for early alert. Explain the location of the emergency thermoses, bag, etc.
    E. Physical Dangers:
        1. Loose lines: Explain what these are and why they are hazardous. Alert everyone to keep an eye out for them.
        2. Man overboard: Explain the swimmer keeps feet and eyes downstream, flexes knees, holds paddle, pushes off rocks, watches for getting caught between raft and rock and for getting hit with paddle or oar, searches for a safe place to get out, angles toward it and backpaddles. Explain the paddlers left in the raft avoid hitting swimmers, shout and alert paddle captain, follow directions (you demonstrate) for reaching swimmer and hauling him back in, and do NOT pursue the swimmer if the paddle captain is giving OTHER directions.
    F. River Dangers:
        1. Wraps: Explain "Highside!" with EMPHASIS. It helps to scream this command with urgency. Demonstrate what happens in a highside.
        2. Flips: Explain about swimmers, then mention what to do if you come up under the raft, how to walk with the hands to come free, preferably on the upstream side of the raft.
        3. Rips: Explain location of repair gear and that rafts have many chambers. Indicate that the guide will give directions.
        4. Holes: Explain how a hole circulates a body. Explain that the current goes downstream deep under the hole and at the sides of the hole. Demonstrate use of the paddle to reach these currents. Explain swimming to the side or diving, if all else fails, to get free.
        5. Tailwaves: Explain that swimmers must try to breathe at the BOTTOM of the wave, that the top of the wave has too much air to float the body of the swimmer.
        6. Strainers: Explain how they can entangle and kill and that they are to be avoided.
    G. Teamwork:
        1. Emphasize the importance of teamwork in the raft and between rafts.
        2. Explain raft order and lead and sweep functions.

II. EQUIPMENT

    A. Lifejackets:
        1. Explain the importance of not using them as pillows and cushions
    B. Paddles:
        1. Explain what "fending off" means. Demonstrate with a paddle that has been misused in this way. Urge folks to let the raft take the impact rather than paddles, feet, arms, etc.
    C. Rafts:
        1. Sand: Keep sand out of the rafts. It destroys the surface by progressive sandpapering.
        2. Heat: Keep rafts cool so they will not burst like an overheated balloon. Throw clean water on them when the river doesn't do it for you.
        3. Puncture: Cooperate with the guide to avoid dragging rafts, pulling them over rocks, and hitting river obstacles.

III. ENVIRONMENT

    A. Leave only footprints. Take only photos and fond memories.
    B. Fire Danger: Explain how cigarettes and matches are to be disposed of. Mention that there are to be no cigarettes on the rafts.
    C. Poisonous Plants: Show plant samples and warn against poison oak and nettles. Explain the use of river water for the first and baking soda from the first aid kit for the second.
    D. Portapotty: Explain its use and etiquette.
    E. Soap: Explain washup procedures and the importance of keeping soap in all of its forms, including toothpaste, out of the water.
    F. Drinking Water: Caution folks against drinking untreated water from the river. Explain what system has been provided for drinking water.
    G. Side Hikes: Lay down appropriate rules for side hikes, emphasizing that more injuries come from such things as tossed rocks, slipping on wet rocks, etc., than from any river hazards. Require a buddy system and a first aid kit on side hikes.
    H. Water Fights: Lay down rules for water fighting. Respect the right of people who do not want to participate. Allow no boarding. Allow no dirty water to be thrown.
    I. Rattlesnakes: Alert folks to rattler facts and to give snakes plenty of distance. Mention that first aid capabilities are along on the trip
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