Safety on the River

Supplied by Envornment Agency Wales
The Wye can be dangerous and has been the cause of many accidents. It is at its most dangerous when there are strong currents, high water levels or cold weather conditions. Do not take risks and never underestimate the power of the river. The Wye is a fast flooding river, which can rise after heavy rain at a rate of over 30cm an hour. When in flood, it is generally best to keep off the river altogether. The Environment Agency monitors water levels at all times and provides a recorded river levels service on 0906 619 7755 (premium rate).

Safety guidelines

Although common sense is the most important requirement, the risk of accidents can be minimised by following these simple guidelines:-

Wear an approved buoyancy aid or life jacket and helmet.
Inspect rapids before “shooting” them.
If possible, never canoe alone, but if you must, let someone know where you are going and your estimated time of arrival, and let them know that you have arrived.
Make sure that you can swim at least 50 metres in the type of clothing you will be wearing.
Carry a repair kit for your canoe, and make sure that you know how to use it.
Make sure that your canoe has built-in buoyancy or has inflated bags inside to prevent it sinking if you capsize.
If you wear glasses, tie them with a piece of string round the back of your head in case of capsize.
If you have not canoed before, ask someone with experience to go with you.
If your canoe has not been used for some time ensure that it is river-worthy.
You should learn how to cope if an accident occurs. Ideally you should be able to:

Help somebody who is in difficulty in the water or has capsized.
Give first aid.
Revive somebody who is unconscious.
Most of the above may seem so obvious that they should not need mentioning, but it is surprising how often they are overlooked and lead to a great deal of trouble, not only for the canoeist, but also for other people.

The river is tidal below Bigsweir Bridge, and can be very dangerous, particularly below Tintern. If you decide to use this stretch, leave Tintern not later than one hour after high water and travel straight through without stopping. High water at Tintern is four hours before Dover.

Environment Agency Wales