Whitewater safety

RIVER SIGNALS.

Simple, basic signals can be a significant component of keeping groups and individuals safe on the river. The table below shows what appears to be widely accepted across many organisations & river users. 

USING SIGNALS

  1. Signals must be pronounced and exaggerated.
  2. They should be acknowledged with the OK signal or repeat back the original signal.
  3. Do not point at the hazard (s) – point at the safe route (which therefore implies a hazard to the side).
  4. As a recipient, repeat important signals to those who may not have seen the original signal, if it is useful or important for them to receive the message.
  5. If a signal is intended for 1 particular person, point at that person before giving the signal.
  6. Down load file here

Go - one at a time

Vertical paddle or arm (static).

ALl come down / all go

Pumping fist up and down at the side of your head.

go left / right

As for ‘GO’ but to the L or R. Hold static.

A repeating, reciprocating action indicates extreme R or L. 

Eddy out r / L

Draw repeated circles above your head in a level plane, then point to the preferred side of the river.

stop

Horizontal paddle or arms out-stretched to the side.

I am ok / are you ok

Arm out to side and place fist on head.

(Useful, for example, after a ‘swim’ to indicate you are ok – or to ask if the swimmer is ok; or to acknowledge an important signal given to you.)

Come to me

Pat the top of your head repeatedly.

NOTE: Whilst there are similarities with the ‘OK’ signal, this is a deliberate dynamic movement.

Emrgency

Wave paddle, or outstretched arm, obviously and deliberately from side to side.

Blow your whistle

1 blow attention – I need to tell you something critical now

3 blows we have a problem immediate action is required ( 3 blows is more useful if people are out of sight – a better guarantee of being heard

SOME OTHER USEFUL SIGNALS

SCout tHE RAPID

Point to eyes with 2 fingers of 1 hand. At a greater distance it may be helpful to turn sideways.

RAPID IS DEFINITELY UNRUNNABLE

Make a cross with your arms above your head..

PORTAGE / I AM PORTAGING

Walking fingers across your face, and to the side – repeat – exaggerated..

I can’t see

Cover eyes.

CLOSE UP  / PADDLE CLOSER TOGETHER

Close hands together and pull apart – repeatedly

FIRST AID REQUIRED

Make a vertical cross with both arms in front of the body. 

(This signal gives more urgency than the ‘Come to Me’ signal.)

SAFETY SET-UP REQUIRED

Join hands above head to make an ‘O’.

Does this line look OK

Point at line then touch chin thoughtfully.
(Person above the rapid asking the question.)

Speed up

Move fist & forearm in circular motion at shoulder height.

Swimmer

Breast stroke action.

Thanks to Pete Riley for pulling this together.