Travel Blog

Dealing with Bears while Camping and Rafting

November 21st, 2011 ernie Posted in Safety 1 Comment »

As we research articles for camping and white water rafting  to write and post on this website for our readers it occurred to us that many of our readers will Dealing with Bears while Campingencounter bears from time to time. Dealing with Bears while Camping as they are hiking, setting up camp or traveling down the river can be scary. We felt that it would be a good idea to post some basic guidelines on this website about how to deal with bears if you encounter them.

Bears are just about everywhere in the wild. You will see them on the road, along lakes and around camps and hiking trails.  If you do not see them always keep your eyes and ears alert and look for signs that they are around.

Dealing with Bears while Camping

These guidelines are taken from a number of web sites and merged to try to provide the best advice available. While we are trying to help our readers, it is understood that there is no guarantee that any of these guidelines will work when you confront a bear. The best advice is to avoid them in the first place.

Avoiding Bear Problems

The best way to avoid bear problems is to take precautions to not attract them in the first place.


If you encounter a bear while in the outdoors, remain calm. DO NOT PANIC! Leave the area.

  • Store foods out of a bear’s reach, in a vehicle or enclosed trailer.
  • Remove all garbage and store it in enclosed vehicles or trailers.
  • Use airtight or bear-proof containers.
  • Post watch for entire event for bear activity.
  • Respect all bears – they all can be dangerous.
  • Never approach a bear.
  • Be defensive – never surprise a bear.
  • Learn about bears. Anticipate and avoid encounters.
  • Know what to do if you encounter a bear.
  • Each bear encounter is unique. No hard and fast rules can be applied when
  • dealing with a potentially complex situation.

The most dangerous bears are:

  • Bears habituated to human food.
  • Females defending cubs.
  • Bears defending a fresh kill.
  • Cute, friendly, and apparently not interested in YOU.

About bears:

  • Bears can run as fast as horses, uphill or downhill.
  • They can climb trees, although black bears are better tree-climbers than grizzly bears.
  • Bears have excellent senses of smell and hearing, and better sight than many people believe.
  • Bears are strong. They can tear cars apart looking for food.
  • Every bear defends a “personal space”. The extent of this space will vary with each bear and each situation; it may be a few metres or a few hundred meters. Intrusion into this space is considered a threat and may provoke an attack.
  • Bears aggressively defend their food.
  • All female bears defend their cubs. If a female with cubs is surprised at close range or is separated from her cubs, she may attack. An aggressive response is the mother grizzly’s natural defense against danger to her young.
  • A female black bear’s natural defense is to chase her cubs up a tree and defend them from the base. However, she is still dangerous and may become aggressive if provoked.

If you encounter a bear at the roadside:

  • Remain in your vehicle. Don’t get out even for a “quick photo”.
  • Keep your windows up.
  • Do not impede the bear from crossing the road.
  • If you park to view bears at a distance, leave your car well off the road to avoid accidents.

IF you come in contact with a bear:

  • Make loud noises, bang pans, yell, honk the horn of a vehicle, wave arms.
  • Back away slowly.
  • Get inside a vehicle and wait for the bear to leave, if it becomes aggressive.
  • Most bears fear people and will leave when they see you. If a bear woofs, snaps its jaws, slaps the ground or brush, or bluff charges: YOU ARE TOO CLOSE! BACK AWAY!
  • Barking dogs, bright lights and noisemakers will sometimes discourage bears from coming into an area.

Children should not:

  • Run or play in areas with dense bush.
  • Play unsupervised in bear country.
  • Make animal-like sounds while hiking or playing.
  • Approach bears, especially bear cubs.
  • Be encouraged to pet, feed, or pose for a photo with bears, even if they appear tame.

If the bear refuses to leave:

  • Be sure you have allowed the bear an escape route.
  • Make loud noises to scare it away.

If the bear is treed:

  • LEAVE IT ALONE! The bear will usually go away when it feels safe.
  • Have people leave the area near the tree.
  • Remove dogs from near the tree.

Your food and garbage:

  • Odors attract bears. Reduce or eliminate odours from yourself, your camp, your clothes, and your vehicle.
  • Don’t sleep in the same clothes you cook in.
  • Store food so that bears cannot smell or reach it. Don’t keep food in your tent – not even a chocolate bar.
  • Properly store and pack out all garbage.
  • Handle and store pet food with as much care as your own.


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White Water Rafting River Grades

December 7th, 2010 ernie Posted in Safety 2 Comments »

White Water Rafting River GradesWe have referred to White Water Rafting River Grades of a rapid in many of our posts. What we have not done is post a good definition of the grades on our blog. Please comment if you disagree with anything we provide here.

Although the grade definitions may vary from country to country or even state to state, the following are an excellent guideline for anyone considering going for a white water excursion. You should also note that the grade level of a particular river can change at a moments notice. Some will change over the season. High fast water in the spring, more tranquil water and lower river levels in the summer mean more exposed rocks. Also rivers that are controlled by the amount of water released by dam controls can change within hours. It is very important to go with someone who knows and understands the river at all levels of water flow.

White Water Rafting River Grades

Grade 1: Very small rough areas, might require slight maneuvering. (Skill Level: Very Basic)

Grade 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, might require some maneuvering.(Skill Level: Basic Paddling Skill)

Grade 3: Whitewater, small waves, maybe a small drop, but no considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering.(Skill Level: Experienced paddling skills)

Grade 4: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe rocks, maybe a considerable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed. (Skill Level: Whitewater Experience)

Grade 5: Whitewater, large waves, large volume, possibility of large rocks and hazards, possibility of a large drop, requires precise maneuvering (Skill Level: Advanced Whitewater Experience)

Grade 6: Class 6 rapids are considered to be so dangerous as to be effectively unnavigable on a reliably safe basis. Rafters can expect to encounter substantial whitewater, huge waves, huge rocks and hazards, and/or substantial drops that will impart severe impacts beyond the structural capacities and impact ratings of almost all rafting equipment. Traversing a Class 6 rapid has a dramatically increased likelihood of ending in serious injury or death compared to lesser classes. (Skill Level: Successful completion of a Class 6 rapid without serious injury or death is widely considered to be a matter of great luck or extreme skill)

Special Consideration

Grades 4,5 and 6 are not for novices, even if you have a guide with you. These are dangerous rapids. The possibility of being spilled into the water is high. If you cannot swim, then you should avoid these types of rapids.

Use common sense when you are planning to embark on a white water rafting trip. Make sure you have all of the proper equipment. You should have an excellent guide who knows the river. Also that all of your companions can handle the level of rapids that you are planning on traversing. Remember your raft team is only as good as the weakest among you. If you are depending on someone who will panic easily, then you cannot depend on them to help steer the raft or rescue you if you should end up in the water.

Good luck and enjoy your next white water rafting trip !

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White Water Rafting Safety

July 8th, 2010 ernie Posted in Safety 1 Comment »

white water rafting safetyWhite water rafting can be a great deal of fun, exciting and thrilling! Following  a few safety guidelines will help to ensure that you, your friends and family will always find rafting an enjoyable experience, ready to go back for more. It is so easy to make a mistake. Or get into a situation you are not prepared for or trained to handle. The rivers conditions change with the seasons, even from week to week. Being aware of all of the safety guidelines, river conditions and keeping your safety gear up to date can be a daunting task. Rely on the experts to provide you with a safe enjoyable experience.

White Water Rafting Safety – Why Use the Experts

The single most important reason to use experts who are trained in whitewater rafting is the safety they provide with equipment, with knowledge of the river and of course the training they received prior to ever going on the river. This includes not only navigating white water rapids, it also includes first aid training and providing support in case their actually is an accident. Pay attention to what they say and follow their instructions. It could save your life.

The equipment is expensive and this is often quoted as a reason to use a rafting company. While it is expensive, they also use the best equipment available, at least the good ones do. From the rafts themselves to the life jackets they provide it all means that you have a better chance of making it alive through the rapids in one piece than you would going rafting yourself. Of course it depends what skill level you consider the rapids to be. A class 1 or 2 river is something you can go canoeing quite safely, hover most experts will not even consider a class 5 set of rapids. If you really want to go rafting with your buddies on the weekend, go with one of the companies in your area that have a good reputation for safety as well as providing value for the money you will spend.

White Water Rafting Safety – Safety Gear

White water rafting safety gear is so important.  All companies should provide you with a minimum of a life jacket that fits you snugly and will not ride up, while keeping you afloat if you end up outside the raft. It should also at all times keep your head upright and for the most part out of the water, in case your head should strike a rock and knock you out. You want to be able to breathe and your head must be above the water line!

Having excellent equipment is of course another important element. Rafts that are worn or dirty are not attractive and probably not safe. If you are planning to rafting early in the spring or even sometimes early summer you may want to wear a wet suit to avoid getting hypothermia. Mountain streams from melting snow can be very cold even in the summer months. So you want to make sure you are dressed properly to avoid any problems in this way.

Finally a means to contact emergency resources if there is an accident. They may not have cell phones with them, however they should have a method worked out that allows them to track rafting excursions and avoid any problems that might arise should no one know that they need help.

Matching Your Skill Level with the River Conditions

This topic is so important. Many people go rafting every year, have a great time and would go back again. As long as you are on a set of rapids that are suitable for your strength and skill level, you will be fine. The higher class of rapids have a higher probability of tossing you into the river. With these types of rapids, before you even go for a trip you may need to prove that you can swim out of a whirlpool or whitewater and get to safety on your own. You will need the strength and the swimming ability to get out of the situation you find yourself in. These are for the expert level white water rapids which most of us will never see.

Most people will go on gentler rapids with a few standing waves, get wet. They enjoy the great out doors , the scenery and the fresh air.  If you feel it necessary to try something more challenging, make sure that you are ready for them. Which is the subject of the next section.

Practicing, Staying in Shape,  and Other Issues to Consider

If you are going to go on increasingly more challenging rapids, you should really be in top physical shape. Be able to swim out of what ever situation you find yourself in. Stay in shape and practice with the companies that provide white rafting services. Most will also entertain applications to train as a raft guide. However you will need to demonstrate that your physical fitness is sufficient to deal with the rigors of rafting.

We would enjoy anyone who wants to leave their comments about this subject or other comments related to white water rafting. Spam comments and blatant advertising is not accepted.

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