10 August 2007

Deaths on the River

There have been a few stories in the past week or two alerting the nation of a couple of deaths during whitewater rafting trips. Five deaths already on the Arkansas River in Colorado, one recent death on a California river trip, and a few others around the country.

The question is, is this something to be concerned about? Well, it depends on how you look at the situation. Typically, when you hear of deaths on the river, it usually involves private boaters who take their own little tubes down a raging river and end up drowning. Commercial outfitters typically do not see many deaths. One news source from Colorado gave an historic breakdown for their commercial river rafting deaths for the past 5 years:

2000- 3 deaths
2001- 2 deaths
2002- none recorded
2003- none recorded
2004- none recorded
2005- 1 death
2006- 1 death
2007- ?

Nation-wide, the industry as a whole usually sees about 20-25 deaths a year on average, with some year hitting the 50 mark (2006). Overall, the numbers may be up this year, but when dealing with an extreme sport, it is always unpredictable. Mother nature is the deciding factor in these instances, and rivers are a tough force to reckon with.

In all though, it still remains a very safe, as long as you go with professional outfitters. Statistically, speaking less than half of all whitewater rafting deaths occur with a professional outfitter. They know the rivers, which spots to avoid, and are trained in rescue techniques to get you out of danger. Considering the number of rafters who go down rivers in any particular season (over 10 million annually), the fatality rate is extremely low (zero is always nice).

Moral of the story- dont be afraid to go rafting. Its still one of the greatest outdoor activities of all time!


David Brown said...

Unfortunately, the information and data on commercial rafting deaths in this article is wrong. There have never been 50 commercial rafting deaths. This was AW's count for all whitewater fatalities in 2006 - not commercial rafting fatalities. CNN erroneously used this data last year. Some data on commercial fatalities in the AW reports do not separate guided trips from rental raft trips for example, lumping it all into the commercial category. For a more accurate view of the data go to http://www.americaoutdoors.org/AOAlertMain.asp?Option=9

Raft America said...

Thanks for the kind comments Dave. I actually agree with you that the 50 fatalities reported are not all commercial. Hence me saying earlier that less than half of all deaths can be traced back to commercial outfitters.

I think I will go ahead and make another post with some updated information you have provided through AO, as that is a reliable source as well. I think we are both aiming for the same goal though (if you read a little more carefully) which is the fact that numbers are over-inflated because most deaths are private people. Rafting is still safe with outfitters, and we are all still trying to promote it.

Thanks again for the updated information. Good to know you are keeping tabs.

P.S.- Try not to take things so personally next time, as emails tend to float my way eventually... :)

River Rafting said...

I think the guides should provide some precautionary methods to prevent the accident before rafting. Hope this could be a solution..

Anonymous said...

River Rafting I don't want this to seem like an attack on you but every time I have gone rafting, there has been an in depth discussion of safety, rescue techniques, ie: use of paddle to help reach someone, and floating flat on water with feet downstream, rope throw bag, rowing commands to help position raft or avoid certain undertow areas. The guides provide fantastic teaching in my experience and that along with knowing the river make the odds of having a good run are great. There is an intrinsic danger (which makes it fun as can be) in rafting and no matter how prepared or skilled the guides/crew may be, things can happen.

I am doing the numbers in Co on Wednesday and I can't wait!!!

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viagra online said...

I think that Arkansas rives in Colorado is one of the most dangerous rivers in the planet, so I love the rafting but I know that this sport is so risky.

Rafi said...

I've been ocoee rafting, Colorado River rafting, and rafting on the Chattanooga. The only danger I see in river rafting is inexperience. If you can't swim, or don't want to wear a helmet, you shouldn't go white river rafting. Otherwise, it's just as dangerous as getting on the highway every day.

Roy D. Slater said...

I've gone rafting a few times and I've never felt in danger. I know that there are certain risk that come when you take on an activity like rafting. I really think it's a great way to spend time in the outdoors.

Taylor Parker said...

We had a family friend that went rafting on a big retreat last summer. We were so excited for him. He had lost his dad just a few months prior, and he still was taking it really hard. We thought that a retreat out in the great wilderness would help clear his head, and help him come to terms with his fathers death. It turned out to be such a turning point for him. He struggles with his day sometimes, but he has really been making progress. He has decided to go see a therapist to help him deal with some of the deeper feelings that he can't understand on his own. We are so proud. Death really is something to struggle with. My best friends dad died in a shooting accident when I was growing up, and even though I didn't lose my dad, I felt like I had. It was something that my best friend and I struggled with for my entire life. I would encourage anyone that has lost a loved one, and is still struggling to reach out and ask for help.

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