Two people have presumably died in Big Wills Creek in Gadsden this week. One a kayaker and one a member of the Etowah County Rescue Squad. Every time a kayaker dies the “wear your pfd” post begin, but that’s not the whole story. That’s just the beginning of being safe on the water, especially small flowing water.
The pfd is an essential part of being safe on the water. But it will not necessarily keep you from dying. Think of wearing a pfd like wearing your seat belt. It does mitigate most issues when worn properly but does not give you a license to act recklessly. Take the rescuer in Gadsden, the report said the “One worker was swept up into the current with such force the life jacket was torn off”. The life jacket must be worn properly, tightened up snug to the body, not loose. The pfd will not save you if you are swept into hydraulic like the low head dam or a strainer that can pull you under with the force of the current.
Check out this video for how to on pfd selection and fit:
Know the conditions and stay off the river/creek when conditions are dangerous. This weekend Big Wills outfitters were closed for a reason. They are a responsible outfitter that thinks of their customer’s safety before the almighty $. Check your conditions and stay off no matter how bad you want to go fishing when the gauges are high! Your probably not an experienced white water kayaker.
Some might recognize the low water bridge on the Flint River, we should not have been on the river!
Know your boat and its limitations and know your skill level. Learn what to do and what not to do if you go over, especially in current.
Learn the dangers of the river. Low head dams are not to be messed with, they are death traps.