What Is the Death Rate of Whitewater Rafting? and What Can You Do to Prevent it?

June 29, 2022 3 min read

Two people died in a recent whitewater rafting accident on a Tennessee river two days ago. They died on Grumpy's rapid past Ocoee Dam No. 2. The river is a popular destination for the whitewater rafting enthusiast in southeast Tennessee. What is the death rate of whitewater rafting? and what can you do to prevent it.

Yough River

Countless deaths occur on the Yough River every year, but the death toll is particularly high on the lower stretches, where the rapids are softer and safer. The Yough is a popular spot for newcomers to the sport, but there are a number of dangers on the river. In the last year alone, 18 boaters have died on the lower Yough. Half of these accidents occurred at the infamous "Dimple," a rocky overcut in the middle of the channel. A number of rafters have been trapped in a cave under the rocks.

Class 2

Among the risks associated with whitewater rafting is sudden immersion in cold water. This sudden immersion can lead to various health conditions, such as leptospirosis, hemlock poisoning, and sunburn. The fatality rate for whitewater rafting is the same as for other adventure sports. Participants should be in good physical condition and wear protective gear, be able to swim and communicate well in the water, and be experienced in the sport. However, despite these precautions, there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of injury.


One of the most common causes of capsizes in white water rafting is being too far out in the river. Whether the raft was too far out or too shallow, the constant pressure of the current can cause the raft to capsize. The victims often come up upside down from the water. They must pull or push themselves out of the raft until daylight. They cannot see the next section of the river.


A life-saving method in the case of entrapment in white water rafting is to use a stabilization line. This line, if used correctly, will keep the victim's head above water, preserving the victim's airway. The victim's life may be saved by a stabilization line alone. However, the rescuer may not be able to free the victim with a rope alone. In this case, the rescuers must move upstream and snag the line low on the victim's body.

Commorbid Medical Conditions

While recreational activities such as whitewater rafting and kayaking may be fun and exciting, they can also increase the risk of mortality, especially for people with comorbid medical conditions. Such conditions can make it difficult to navigate the water, exacerbate a preexisting medical condition, or prevent an individual from rescuing themselves if they become drowned. El Paso County coroner reports from the last two years show that 11 people died while rafting or kayaking in Colorado or Oregon.

Inexperienced Rafters

There is a high risk for falling out of a raft, and there are a number of factors that contribute to this. The most common causes of white water rafting deaths are heart problems and inexperienced boaters. While there is no single cause of rafting deaths, many accidents are preventable with the proper training and equipment. Inexperienced rafters should participate only with a professional outfitter who can provide the necessary training. Moreover, all rafters should be capable of active recovery in case of falling out of the raft. According to the latest reports, the death rate of white water rafting is one in every 100,000 commercial trips.

Commercial Outfitters

While white water rafting can be a great adventure for families, it can also be dangerous. According to CNN, 25 people died during the 2006 white water rafting season. The article suggested that lax regulation was at fault. Keeping track of these statistics is difficult. Though professional outfitters keep careful records of accidents, those in the private sector are harder to monitor. In any case, if you're considering booking a trip this summer, be sure to read about the facts about safety.

River Grades

Although white water rafting is considered a safe activity, it is not without its risks. Since 1978, New Zealand has regulated the activity and reported a death rate of one in every 100 participants. A higher death rate can result from a raft capsized or a heart attack, or from being thrown from the raft. Whether you choose to take part in this adventurous sport is a personal choice, but it is important to consider the physical limitations of your own fitness level.

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