Whitewater Safety

Colorado Whitewater takes river safety seriously. We offer a variety of courses for our members that help them and their paddling partners safer on the river.

While all outdoor recreation has inherent risks, many whitewater accidents are preventable. Here are some simple things YOU can do to stay safe.
  1. Wear your Life Jacket regardless of boat type or difficulty of water. A third of all whitewater accidents could have been prevented if the victim was wearing a life vest; many deaths occur in very easy rapids!
  2. Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs. Alcohol dulls reflexes and survival responses and is often linked to fatalities. Celebrate at your campsite or home.
  3. Know the river to prevent unpleasant surprises. Find out what lies downstream. Check the AW site, guidebooks, Google earth, and get advice from paddlers who have been there!
  4. Avoid extremes of weather and water: Very high flows and cold temperatures pose special challenges to paddlers. If you don't have the specialized gear and skills needed, wait until conditions improve.
  5. Avoid dams: Small low-head dams are responsible for over 8% of river fatalities. Most are much worse than they look! Know the location of dams before launching on a river, and avoid getting too close to the upstream or downstream sides of them.

Safety Instructional Classes


Somewhere, at sometime, you will wish you knew what to do in a river emergency. Just rescuing gear can turn into a nightmare, never mind rescuing a person. Quick response time and the knowledge to set up a rescue safely are skills you should have as a boater. Make this the year to bring your rescue skills to a higher level. Friends owe it to friends to be capable of river rescue.  Kayakers must be of Class II-III ability. Rescue lifejackets are considered personal equipment and are highly recommended.



2024 Dates TBD

CW Membership Benefit: $65 discount on local Swiftwater Rescue Classes at Whitewater Workshop.

See Member Area for discount code.

More dates may be announced in the future, please check back.


Course questions should be directed to the Instructor Nik White

General questions about Safety at CW should be directed to CW's Safety Director Chris Zeller.


CPR/First Aid

All Instructors, cruise leaders and sweeps are required to be Red Cross First Aid/CPR certified.  As such, CW will again be providing free Red Cross First Aid/CPR certification classes for these volunteers! Please email Chris Zeller for Code.

Register for the January 3rd, 2024 CPR/First Aid course

Register for the March 2nd, 2024 CPR/ First aid course

Register for the March 16th, 2024 CPR/ First aid course

Note: Registration for these events is non-refundable.


CW's Focus on River Safety
It is the responsibility of every club member to maintain this high standard of Whitewater Safety.

CW firmly supports the AW Safety Code and strongly encourages all paddlers to adopt it.

Additional Safety Resources:
Information provided by Princeton University Outdoor Action Program on how to run a safe river trip and hypothermia & cold weather injuries.

Check the Members Only page for discounts on safety training!

 Colorado Whitewater is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  1312 17th St #76767, Denver, CO 80202

©2023 Colorado Whitewater.

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