Introduction To White Water Safety

The Introduction to White Water Safety course is designed to support paddlers to become effective group members on grade 2 water. This one day course is suitable for anyone starting out on their white water paddling journey, wanting to explore the role of an effective group member and learn simple strategies and safe skills that can provide the tools to solve common paddling issues. Topics covered include Clothing and equipment, the White Water environment, preparing for the river trip, Swimming techniques and many more. Paddlers will rescue from their preferred craft, which can include kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards.

The Program

The Introduction to White Water Safety is a 6-hour programme that consists of 9 modules. This can be delivered in a day or as a series of modules and is available to all ages.

Motivations and decisions:

    • Ours and others’ motivations
    • Collaborative support
    • Selection of river to match motivations

Clothing and equipment:

    • Craft overview, safety considerations, and features
    • Clothing and equipment worn
    • Additional safety equipment

The White Water environment:

    • Understanding water features
    • Recognising water features
    • Hazards on the river

Preparing for the river trip:

    • Appropriate clothing and craft for the river trip
    • Safety protocols
    • River brief

Swimming techniques:

    • Defensive swimming
    • Aggressive swimming
    • Changing direction

Choosing how to help a swimmer:

    • Supporting the swimmer
    • Wading
    • Reaching
    • Receiving a throwline

What to do when we swim:

    • Stay safe
    • Roll up, push/move away
    • Nudge
    • Attaching a line

Kit retrieval:

    • Paddle retrieval
    • Assisting others

Reflections and Skills Checklist:

    • Reflections from the course
    • Reflections on own learning and areas for development
    • Skills checklist


Participants need to either hold the relevant British Canoeing Awarding Body Personal Performance Award or equivalent ability in/on their preferred craft due to the paddling environment and the boat/board control required to complete the course.

Recommended Equipment to bring

The following is a list of recommended equipment, if you do not have specific equipment please do not go out and buy, this course is a great chance to learn about equipment and try it out before purchasing your own:

  • Mobile phone in a waterproof case (fully charged)
  • Whistle
  • Knife
  • Saw for canoeists
  • Sling or tape, with or without a karabiner
  • Small first aid kit
  • Group shelter
  • Spare clothing
  • Food and drink