Get Outdoors – Expedition – #20 Cross a River Safely


Fatalities from river crossings occur in New Zealand each year. Crossing a river is a serious undertaking. You need skill and sound judgement to cross successfully. If in doubt do not cross the river. Some popular tracks will have swing bridges and cable ways. But tramping in the backcountry often includes learning to cross a river or two. Ask yourself these questions whenever there
is a river between you and your destination. Do we need to cross? You should always choose routes with bridges during your trip planning phase. If there is no bridge option then check your map to see if
there are alternative routes or bridges nearby. Always be prepared to turn around
or find another track if the river isn’t safe. Is it safe to cross? Check out the river and see if there are any hazards that might cause you trouble. Assess the rivers speed. If it’s faster than walking paste then it’s not safe. Check the rivers depth. You don’t want to go any deeper than thigh height
on the smallest member of the team. Colour and clarity. Can you see the bottom? If not… then do not attempt to cross. Is the river in flood? Look for discoloration, surging water, trees
and debris floating downriver. Or the sound of rolling stones on the riverbed. These all indicate that the river is in flood and should not be crossed. Where do we cross? Look for a spot in the river that isn’t
moving faster than walking pace and no deeper than knee height. Avoid steep riverbanks, rapids and whitewater or river edges with fences, tree roots or other strainers. How do we cross? The best way is to used the mutual support method. This provides a backup for anyone who loses
their footing during the crossing. Follow these steps to cross the river successfully. 1. Line up people according to their
level of strength and experience. Have a strong person at the upstream end of the line. Then place the strongest most experienced person
alongside them for extra support. Place another strong person at the downstream end with the rest of the group in between. 2. Undo the chest straps and loosen shoulder straps. 3. Check the waist belts are all done up. 4. Insert arms between each neighbors pack and their back and grasp either their waist belt or their pack shoulder strap down low on the opposite side. 5. Before you enter the water choose an exit spot downstream so that the group knows where they’re heading. 6. Move into the river as a single unit. 7. Do not break formation until everyone is safely on the bank. Make sure you communicate with the whole
group during the entire time. Watch for signs of hypothermia after your crossing. Change into warm dry clothes if you need
to and check on everyone else in the group. Have a snack and a warm drink
before you head off again.

8 thoughts on “Get Outdoors – Expedition – #20 Cross a River Safely

  1. A mate and I pulled an older couple out of the Orongoronga River about 5 years back; they said we saved their lives. They had been crossing the river together most weeks for the last 30 years to get to their private hut on the side that we were standing and watching from. We ended up staying the night with them until the river dropped after the recent rain.

  2. Three Lieutenants were trying to cross a rough river in a storm. God appeared before them, granting them one request each.

    The first LT said "God, grant me the strength needed to cross this river."

    God gave him the muscle mass and endurance necessary; he swam across the river, reaching the other side in fifteen minutes and almost drowning thrice.

    The second LT said "God, grant me the means needed to cross this river."

    God gave him a kayak and paddle; he paddled across, reaching the other side in ten minutes and almost drowning once.

    The last LT said "God, grant me the intelligence needed to cross this river."

    God made him a Sergeant; he pulled out his map, realized there was a bridge just a few hundred metres upriver, and reached the other side in five minutes.

  3. I plan on doing the TA next year, and I've been told to watch videos like these. Thanks so much. I'll be binging them

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