BC River Rafting Safety

BCROA Rafting Safety Bulletin

Few recreational activities provide the exhilaration of whitewater rafting, the excitement of wildlife viewed up close and the breathtaking scenery found on and around our rivers. Every year people from around the world come to participate in rafting adventures in British Columbia. There is a rafting tour in BC for almost everyone - easy scenic float trips, exciting whitewater and multi-day wilderness expeditions.

All adventure or outdoor activities have an element of risk associated with the activity and nobody can guarantee your safety - the same as you cannot guarantee your safety while driving your car or riding your bicycle. However, you can manage the level of risk based on the choices you make in regards to the type of river tour appropriate for you and the company who provides your adventure.

Shared Responsibility

Federal and provincial regulations in conjunction with the BCROA member programs work together to ensure that river rafting tours are conducted by professional, trained river guides. They also require that the rafter be aware of and prepared for the experiences that lie ahead. While rafting guides and companies have certain responsibilities, the onus of personal safety ultimately falls on each individual rafter. Share the responsibility - make an informed decision.

Know your Rafting Company and Guide

BCROA members have agreed to operate their companies at a standard above that required by federal and provincial regulations. These standards identify the minimum guiding experience and training required to become a river guide, as well as the experience required to navigate different types of rivers. River outfitters livelihood depends on doing their job well - and that means doing it as safely as possible.

Here are some questions to ask when choosing your river tour company:

  • Is your company a member in good standing of the BCROA?
  • Are wetsuits and helmets required for this river?
  • How frequently do you conduct tours on this river?
  • How long has your company been offering river tours?
  • Do you have regular training for guides on this river?


Know the River

River rafting guides know what to expect each time they embark on a river trip. Most rafters do not. Rafting guides must give a safety briefing to inform you what to expect on the river - and what is expected of you.

Questions that are answered during the briefing include:

  • What is the river like at today's water flows?
  • How long will the trip take?
  • What will be expected of me?
  • What do I do if someone falls overboard?
  • How do I self-rescue if I fall out?


Know Yourself

Just as the river guide is obligated to ensure that you understand what is required to participate on the river trip, you too are under obligation. Do not jeopardize anyone's safety - yours or other rafters. Discuss any physical or mental issues with your rafting company and guide prior to the trip to ensure you have chosen an appropriate activity. Raft trips are available that are suitable for almost everyone.

Ultimately, only you are able to answer the most important questions:

  • Am I prepared for this river trip?
  • Have a chosen the appropriate tour for my interests and physical abilities?
  • Do I have health problems that may hinder my performance?
  • Will I react appropriately if I fall from the raft?


By participating in this amazing sport you are challenging your abilities - and the rewards are outstanding!


“We had a complete BLAST, we would highly recommend Hydra to anyone interested in rafting!” – Linda & Nedra Maxin, Montana

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