Most safe practices on the river are just good common sense. Come prepared to have fun, because you will, but always keep a sharp lookout for hazards. You may be in an unfamiliar setting, so here are a few tips to make your day go by safely.
Before You Go
Wear a hat, long pants and sturdy footwear. No flip-flops or open-toed shoes will be allowed on boats. Gloves will be provided.
Sunscreen, sunglasses and snacks are recommended.
Eat a good breakfast. You will be working hard.
Bring a re-usable water bottle. Water jugs will be provided, drink lots of water.
Don’t bring electronic games, cameras, ipods or anything you don't want to lose on the water.
A light backpack or “fanny” pack is good for carrying water, snacks, etc.
If you have a PFD or “Life Jacket” that fits you, bring it. We provide lifejackets for everyone going out in a boat, but if you want to wear one while working on the bank, bring your own. We often need to "recycle" lifejackets at large clean-ups for the boats. Children however, should keep a life jacket on at all times.
In The Boat
Always wear a PFD in the boat and wear it properly.
The boat operator is the boss of the boat. Follow his/her instructions in and around the boat.
Leave your PFD with the boat. We often need to "recycle" them at large clean-ups and they tend to get left in the woods. If you feel you need one while workin on shore, bring your own to the cleanup or simply ask if you can keep the one we gave you on.
Keep your hands inside the boat at all times, especially when alongside another boat, dock or barge.
Stay seated and be aware that the operator has to be able to see over or around you.
The operator has his hands full with his/her job. Try not to distract him/her. If you have questions, ask the designated crew person.
Watch out for "Flying Carp". These fish can grow quite large and when frightened by a boat, can leap into the air as high as 10 feet and can land in boats. If a fish does land in the boat, please stay seated and allow the boat crew to deal with the situation. They're used to it! Protect your head. You can use your feet to hold the fish on the boat deck until it can be handled and thrown overboard.
Enjoy the ride!
On The Riverbank
Stay aware of the members of your group. You must provide your own safety net out there.
Pick a spot near your drop off point for a rally point. Bring the bagged trash there and center it next to heavy objects.
Don’t try to move extremely heavy or hazardous material. Roll tires, appliances and barrels to remove mud before trying to move to the riverbank. Team up on heavy things. And report any hazardous materials to be dealt with by clean-up leaders (barrels or drums with liquids inside them). Car batteries, jugs of oil or pesticides should be disposed of separately.
Watch for Poison Ivy, Stinging Nettles and other hurtful plants.
Leave all wildlife alone. They are in their place and you are their guest.
Drink more water. Then drink more water. That’s enough!
If someone is injured, follow first aid practices. Keep the injured person calm and have someone flag down a passing boat for help by waving both arms. Apply a compress to limit bleeding if necessary. All boats have first aid kits. And the designated team leader of the group should have the boat drivers cell phone number in the event of an emergency.
Report all injuries to clean-up leaders as soon as possible. We will make sure they are attended to.
Never enter the water to retrieve trash or to cool off, except in an emergency. If it isn’t readily removable, leave it! The deepest water is often very close to the bank and dirt at the edge can be unbstable. Never walk on a brush pile over the water.
The banks can be really slick! So watch your footing and stay out of the water! The mud can be very deep. Test muddy areas before walking into them and stay with a partner.
Regroup periodically and take a head count.
Be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion in yourself and others. If someone shows signs of heat exhaustion, put them in the water immediately and DO NOT LEAVE THEM ALONE. Get help as soon as possible.
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This website is created and maintained by Missouri River Relief, P.O. Box 463, Columbia, MO 65205