Are you a skilled kayaker, canoeist or rafter? Don’t head out into the wild waters without having mastered throw bag technique. Throw bags have your back in those tricky swift water and whitewater rescue scenarios to pull struggling swimmers from depths of danger! Knowing how to use them effectively can mean the difference between life and death – read on for steps that’ll teach you all about this lifesaving art!
Time Required: To Practice: 1/2 hour. In Real Life: Just Seconds
- Quickly Get to the Throw Bag: Remove the throw bag from the kayak, canoe, or raft, being sure to untie or unclip it from being secured to anything. If it is strapped to your waist, remove it. The throw bag should be completely removed and unattached from everything and everyone.
- Open the Throw Bag: Open the mouth of the throw bag so that the rope can be freely removed from the bag without restriction. You may need to un-Velcro the cover of the bag and squeeze the plastic retainer on the drawstring.
- Grab Hold of the Throw Bag and Rope: Hold the bag in the hand that you plan to throw the bag with. Remove the end of the rope from the other hand and hold it firmly.
- Aim Ahead of the Swimming Kayaker, Canoeist, or Paddler: If the swimmer is being carried downstream, plan to throw the bag downstream or ahead of the swimmer. If you simply aim for the swimmer chances are the bag will land upstream or behind him or her since they will continue moving while the bag is in the air.
- Throw the Throw Bag: This is the moment of truth. You will throw the bag and not the end of the rope. Be sure to hold onto a significant portion of the rope end securely. A second person can also hold the rope end, providing additional support. Throw the bag with the rope in it using an underhand motion. Don’t worry about throwing the bag downstream of the swimmer as they should be able to swim to it.
- Get to the Rescue Rope: The person in the water should let go of the kayak or canoe if he or she is clinging to it and swim in the whitewater to the rope. Be sure not to try to stand up and don’t get tangled up in the rope.
- Securely Hold the Rescue Rope: The swimmer should have hold of the rope and not the bag. At this point the current will do the work. Both people involved in the whitewater rescue, the rescuer and the person being rescued, should just hold securely onto the rope. If there is another person with the rescuer, that person should also hold onto the end of the rope providing even more support. The water will carry the person downstream causing him or her to swing toward the shore.
- Get the Swimmer to Safety: Once the person gets to shore help him or her to safety. Congratulations! You have just completed your first whitewater rescue using a rope throw bag.
- Don’t throw the rope bag behind the swimmer as they won’t be able to swim upstream to get to it.
- Don’t throw the bag using an overhand technique. It won’t go as far and is less accurate.
- The whitewater rescuer needs to throw the bag and not the rope.
- The person being rescued from the whitewater needs to grab the rope and not the bag.
- If the swimmer holds onto his or her kayak or canoe it will generate a lot of force on the rope. In this case, more than one person should hold the other end of the rope. If there is a tree nearby the rope can be wrapped around the tree for further support.
What You Need
- Rope Bag / Throw Bag
- Knife (For Safety)
- PFD on the Everyone Involved