Safety

Safety

All outdoor activities have inherent risk. RACCC attempts to manage the level of risk by making safety the responsibility of all RACCC members. The well-being of paddlers is always of paramount concern and is factored into all club training and tripping activities.

In over 60 years that the RACCC has been in existence there have not been any serious injuries. This is due in large measure to the culture of safety that exists in the RACCC and the promotion of safety through training, coaching and mentoring of new members, guidance from trip leaders, and empowering individual members to make informed decisions related to their safety. The training programs go beyond skills training to include first aid and river rescue courses.

In order to ensure the safety of the trip, the whitewater and flatwater coordinators have the authority to insist that specific criteria be met and/or to remove club sanction from the trip. These criteria can include a detailed itinerary, a specific safety equipment, and specific skill levels. Notwithstanding this, coordinators are not responsible for the conduct of participants on trips.

Every club trip or training event must have a leader. Trip and training leaders have the authority to limit the activities of participants in order to protect the safety of individuals or the entire group. However, the ultimate responsibility for an individual's safety rests with the individual.

If you have any contributions or ideas contact the Training Coordinator: Peter Kasurak

If you are interested in safety training, please see River Rescue and the training page for information on how to register.

 

Individual Responsibilities

When joining the club, all members must read and sign (to acknowledge understanding) the Assumption of Risk form.  It is the responsibility of the individual to inform the trip leader of any health issues that could become a problem on the trip. This includes any history of allergies and prescription drug use.

RACCC members are expected to understand their abilities and limitations and to restrict their participation to activities they can perform safely. Members are encouraged to maintain a basic swimming capability. While non-swimmers can join, the RACCC requires non-swimmers to wear their PDFs in or around the water at all times, in addition to when they are on the water.

Since individual members understand their strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else, they are expected to assume a certain number of responsibilities. These include:

  • Being aware of the risks as well as the rewards involved in paddling and camping;
  • Avoiding activities which endanger themselves or others;
  • Dressing appropriately for paddling conditions;
  • Keeping fuelled and hydrated;
  • Carrying proper safety equipment and having the ability and knowledge to use it;
  • Paddling within their abilities and notifying leaders if they are being pushed beyond their comfort zones;
  • Notifying trip leaders if they have any medical or other conditions that could create a danger on a trip, or other circumstances that could affect the safety or enjoyment of trip participants; and
  • Complying with RA and RACCC rules and regulations.

In general, all trip and training participants must agree on safety signals at the beginning of the trip and make sure that everyone understand them. Moreover, participants should stay within voice contact of the group on a calm day and signal contact in adverse conditions.

All members are encouraged to take basic first aid, CPR and river rescue courses, as well as carry a small personal first aid kit.

 

Regulations

Canadian regulations for canoes require each boat to carry one Canadian approved personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket of appropriate size for each person on board (and that this is worn at all times on the water), one buoyant heaving line of not less than 15 m in length, one bailer, a sound-signalling device and navigation lights that meet the applicable standards after sunset, before sunrise, or in restricted visibility. For more information consult the Transport Canada website.

Additionally, for club trips all groups must have:

  • Have an identified trip leader or training coordinator. Trip and training leaders have the authority to limit the activities of participants in order to protect the safety of individuals or the entire group. However, the ultimate responsibility for an individual's safety rests with the individual.
  • Carry a club first aid kit (or equivalent that meets the Transport Canada requirements).
  • When water temperatures are below 15 degrees Celsius (typically before June 15 and after September 15), have a hypothermia kit or camping gear.
  • Communicate trip or course details to a designated emergency contact, including put‑in and take‑out locations and projected times, and number of trip or course participants, prior to departure.
  • Fill out a sign‑out sheet in the boathouse if the trip or course is organized from, or leaves from, the boathouse.
  • Give a safety briefing to participants before starting the trip or course.

 

Don't Drink and Paddle

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation regulations related to drinking and paddling allow for a short-term (up to 30 day) driver license suspension for a blood alcohol concentration of between 0.05 to 0.08 and a 90day suspension and fine for a blood alcohol concentration above 0.08. The regulations apply to the operation of both motorized and non-motorized vessels including canoes and kayaks. For more information see the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website.

The Paddle Canada policy on intoxicants is no use within 8 hours.

Ottawa River -- Navigation Restrictions

Federal Ban on Paddling the Ottawa River

Due to flooding, the federal government has banned paddling on the Ottawa River until further notice.  Details are summarized by the Ottawa River Runners:

Ottawa River Runners Club Notice

As you may have seen, Transport Canada has issued some waterway navigation restrictions due to the extensive flooding in Ontario and Quebec. Club members should note that these restrictions do apply to all watercraft, including human powered canoes and kayaks (with exemptions for emergency services). On May 14th, the restriction was extended past the Rocher Fendu/Beachburg section of the Ottawa River. Penalties for violating the orders range from $250 to $5000.

The Pumphouse whitewater section is a tributary called Bronson Creek, which to our understanding would not be included in the restriction. However the flatwater area below the tunnel is off limits until these restrictions are lifted. There are certainly other rivers in the region that can be paddled, with precautions taken for spring and flood conditions.

Transport Canada: Interim Order No. 3 Respecting Flooded Areas

 City of Ottawa Flooding Information

"The City does not require volunteers at this time. We will be asking for volunteers once the flood waters have receded and we move into recovery operations."

 To summarize

No paddling: 

     Ottawa River between the Otto Holden Dam (Mattawa) and the Deux Montagnes Lake (Montreal)

     - includes the Main & Middle Channels

     - includes the flatwater section at the Pumphouse

Yes paddling: (with safety in mind)

     The Pumphouse 'whitewater' section in front of the clubhouse

     Other rivers in the region (the Rideau, the Jock, etc)

 

Safety Warning - Transporting Canoes with Foam Blocks

Safety Warning - Transporting Canoes with Foam Blocks

Changing automobile technology means that we have to be careful when running over straps inside the body of the car while putting canoes on cars with foam blocks

Some newer cars are coming with safety devices called curtain or canopy airbags. These are air bags that are installed over the doors in cars or in the side pillars of cars. These air bags protect passengers in the event of a side collision.

If a person passes over straps or rope through a car with curtain or canopy air bags, the straps or ropes will interfere with the deployment of the air bags and may cause injuries if there is an accident. Blocking or restraining an airbag during deployment could cause fire or explosion resulting in serious injury or worse.

Fortunately, it is easy to identify cars with curtain or canopy airbags. If you are not sure if your car has this type of air bag, check your owner’s manual. In many cases the airbags in cars is have labels like the ones on the steering wheels. If you are not sure if your car has this type of airbag – do not pass straps or ropes through the car.

Before passing over straps or ropes through a car, check to see if it has curtain or canopy air bags.

If a car has curtain or canopy airbags – do not pass straps or ropes through it.

At this point I do not know of an alternative way of attaching over straps on cars without racks.

Note: The warning doesn’t apply to cars with racks since the over straps or ropes are tied to the racks.

Mark Scott

Drunk Canoeing to be Removed as an Impaired Driving Offence

Drunk Canoeing CONTINUES To Be Impaired Driving Offence

Click here for more information.

Fire Ban in Provincial Parks

Fire Ban in Provincial Parks

The fire ban in Algonquin Park has been lifted and the French River Provincial Park has reopened, with some restrictions, after a large forest fire.

Click here for an active fire map for Ontario.

Click here for an active fire map for Quebec.

Click here for a fire danger map.

First Aid Course Report June 2016

First Aid Course Report June 2016

First Aid Course June 2016Over the weekend 5 canoe club members spent two days at the RA centre learning standard first aid, CPR for all ages, and dealing with scenarios that could occur in the wilderness.

This was a great and helpful course. I can see many situations where I could use these techniques either out on the trail or in the city. Karen’s approach with lots of scenarios and a “bubbly” personality made it all the more interesting. I have read in several studies that people learn better and retain the learning when they are having fun. This course certainly made that come true. Looking forward to similar courses in the future. (participant)

Every club member should have an opportunity to take a course like this! (participant)

One participant had an unexpected tumble. We took this photo after we helped her.