Health and Safety River Program

The Health and Safety River program was designed to provide knowledge that can be shared, encourage and enhance skill development, and assist in developing positive attitudes and behaviours towards river safety.

Living within an environment with an abundance of recreational water activity opportunities, health and safety aspects become a significant factor determining the outcome of these activities. Our program focuses on this aspect and helps to educate students and the wider community around the risks involved when visiting urban and rural rivers and how to decrease or eliminate these risks through risk assessments, analysis and management proposals.

Key Learning Aspects and Activities:

1. River feature assessment:

Understanding the opportunities and the dangers the water features present for a range of river users including swimmers, kayakers and those who accidently end up in the river current.

2. Crossing the river:

Proceeding through a checklist of where to cross which includes hands on activities of the depth of the water, speed of flow of the water, identifying safe entry and exit points and identifying the nature of the river bed and river water.

3. How to cross the river:

A significant aspect of this program aligns with this activity where children are taught how to cross a river safely once identification of a safe area to enter has been established. This process is called The Mutual Support Method for people to support each other as they cross and if one person loses their footing they will be supported by others in the group. It not only reveals how to cross safely, but encourages and enhances relationships between participants.

4. What to do if someone is being swept down the river:

Knowledge around a Land Based Rescue is shared and embedded within participants as they practice the exercise. Identification of how to rescue someone is shown to participants and how to increase the chance of survival through land based rescue techniques.

5. Survival Swimming:

 A survival swimming technique called the White Water Position is educated to participants on how to position yourself in the water if you unfortunately get swept downstream. It allows individuals to understand and comprehend how you can survive when being propelled downstream and the actions you can take to overcome a fatal outcome or prolong survival until emergency services are available.

 Aligned with this program is the He Awa Ora, Healthy Rivers program where an assessment of the river is conducted in order to determine the quality. This plays a major role in the safety of a river for recreational use where participants learn about the detrimental impacts that can occur and what they can do to improve these or avoid them for the health and safety of current and future generations.