How Dangerous Is White Water Rafting?

How Dangerous Is White Water Rafting

White water rafting is generally safe but you do have about a 1 in 558 chance of being injured from it. With these numbers, it’s safe to say that for the vast majority, white water rafting can still be a fun and engaging activity. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be reckless.

Keep in mind that white water rafting is still an extreme sport. That means that the risks of injuries and fatalities are still there. So long as you wear the right gear to do white water rafting and you take the right routes, you shouldn’t have to worry about these dangers.

One of the ways to be safer while out rafting is to be more informed about the activity and it’s dangers.

How Dangerous Is White Water Rafting?

As stated, white water rafting isn’t completely safe. While the activity does pose a little threat to people, it’s far less than what you would expect from other extreme sports.

White water rafting gives you a 1 in 558 chance of being injured. That amounts up to a 0.18% chance of you being injured while doing the activity. On the other hand, rock climbing gives you between 10% and 81% of being injured. That’s irrespective of the cause.

When it comes to fatalities, you have a 1 in 100,000 chance of dying from white water rafting which is 0.001%. In rock climbing, you have a 1 in 1,775 chance of dying which translates to 0.06%.

Both are very low figures if you look at them. Various reasons affect the injuries and fatalities that can happen in white water rafting. Now that you know how dangerous – or not dangerous white water rafting is, it’s time to tackle the sorts of problems you might face.

What Are The Dangers Of White Water Rafting?

What Are The Dangers Of White Water Rafting

First, it’s vital that you understand exactly what white water rafting is.

One of the world’s most popular river-based activities is white water rafting. You along with a group of people traverse rushing rivers on a raft. With proper teamwork and technique, you’ll be able to pass through the river with ease while taking in the sights around the area.

People all over the world partake in white water rafting. The steps taken by the organizers of the tours minimize the dangers.

Now that you know what white water rafting is, what are some of the dangers – or some of the things you should look out for?

  1. Drowning – This is the no. 1 danger when it comes to white water rafting. It’s not about the depth of the river, it’s about how strong the currents are. If you go overboard the raft, there’s a chance that the force of the water is strong enough to pull you down. The good news is that with life jackets and straps at the raft, the chances of drowning remain low.
  1. Hypothermia – This happens when your body reaches extremely cold temperatures. This of course happens mostly during the winter. You can counter hypothermia by wearing the appropriate gear which provides insulation while white water rafting.
  1. Overfatigue – White water rafting might seem simple and easy but it’s physically demanding. Exhaustion and pre-existing injuries make it harder to move at your best. Don’t raft if you have these. You’re putting your fellow rafters at risk as well. By making sure that you are 100% healthy, you’ll be safer around your fellow-rafters as well.
  1. Rock collision – If the river’s rapids are too strong, it will be harder to control the raft. In cases like these, there’s a chance that your raft will collide with things like rocks, trees, and even cliff faces. While the collision’s impact can be absorbed by the raft, you can get minor injuries as well if you’re unlucky.
  1. Getting stuck in obstacles – The rivers used for white water rafting aren’t always a straight path. In fact, there will be sharp turns, rocks, and many other obstacles along the way. Be careful about it.

What Are the Chances Of Dying White Water Rafting?

While chances of injuries with white water rafting are already low, the chances of death are even lower. According to recent statistics, the numbers of deaths are as follows:

  • 1977 to 1986: 48 deaths
  • 1987 to 1996: 219 deaths
  • 1997 to 2006: 453 deaths
  • 2007 to 2016: 530 deaths

The numbers might seem large but you need to consider the fact that they come from worldwide cases. Moreover, there are millions of rafters per year as well. From a broader scope, the numbers are actually very small.

As you can see, the numbers per decade have been on the rise. However, we can attribute this to the fact that the sport is becoming more and more popular – hence, more people are trying it out.

Organizers of white water rafting activities continue to find ways to make the activity safer. These include finding better equipment, better routes, and even developing new techniques for safer rafting.

Is White Water Rafting Safe For Non-Swimmers?

The short answer is that, yes – it’s dangerous for non-swimmers to partake in white water rafting. Drowning is one of the leading dangers when it comes to white water rafting after all.

Life jackets are provided during rafting trips. However, that will never be enough to keep you safe from drowning. If you get dragged by the currents and you have no idea how to swim, you’ll be put in great peril. Some currents are strong enough to drag you down to the bottom even with a life jacket.

As long as you follow the rules and you raft safely, being a non-swimmer shouldn’t matter too much while white water rafting. You’ll always be accompanied by people who can swim. Still, basic survival skills like learning how to float or to at least do a basic swimming stroke are a big plus.

White water rafting is a fun activity. It’s also a generally fun extreme sport. Try comparing it to other sports out there. Follow the rules at all times, wear the right gear, and take it seriously – doing these things let you minimize the risk.

You want to know the cost of white water rafting in the US? check our guide.

About Carla

I'm a journalist passionate about extreme sports. I love writing and reading stories about those brave people that are going beyond the limit of their physical capabilities.

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