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personal injury float tripIn Missouri and Illinois, there is a Summer event that many local residents look forward to every year:  the float trip. Float trips on the river is a therapeutic exercise for many, but for some it is an excuse to let loose in ways that could endanger themselves and others. Missouri waterways are clogged with floaters that are looking for a party atmosphere, and most are able to find it at various rivers and outfitters. With the party atmosphere comes an increase in the chance of a personal injury.

A personal injury or drowning is extremely traumatic. Our St. Louis personal injury lawyers want you to have a great time on your float trip, but also make it home in one piece. The best way to avoid a personal injury while floating is to use your head. If you think about the things that could happen before they actually do happen, it can better prepare you for what to do in case of emergency. Please review these personal injury prevention tips to make sure your trip ends safely.

Tips for avoiding injury while on a float trip:

Use caution with alcohol

alcohol causes you to have an impaired ability to make decisions. After a few beers, you may think you can swim across the river with out a life preserver when your sober self would never risk it. It’s a good idea to bring twice the amount of water as alcohol on your float trip. This will help you avoid extreme intoxication, which increases your risk of personal injury.

Wear your life jacket

It is a smart idea to wear your life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) while floating. A PFD is the #1 way to avoid personal injury or death on the river. 75% of people who drown on a float trip are not wearing life jackets. Children 12 and under are required to wear a PFD while on a water vessel of any kind at all times to avoid personal injury.

Know your limit –

Float Trip goers can get in trouble while floating if navigating a river that is above their skill level. Before your trip, if you have never floated the waterway before it can be easier to avoid personal injury by visiting a site like to research river hazards and conditions.

Check the weather before your Float Trip

Weather can change on the water more quickly than on land. Storms will cause waves and wind which can cause you to fall in the water and sustain a personal injury. It is always a good idea to check the weekend forecast before you leave home and alter your plans accordingly. You should also try to set up your camp in an elevated area in case of a storm after your float trip. This can help you avoid personal injury or drowning in the case of a flash flood.

Recognizing dangers

Most people who drown on float trips get caught in what is referred to as a “strainer.” A strainer occurs when there is a downed tree or a rock formation where water can flow freely through. Some paddlers can tip easily when trying to navigate around these river hazards. If you are caught against a strainer without a flotation device, the water pressure can push you under the surface and hold you against the strainer. This often causes serious personal injury or drowning as the person cannot swim out of the strainer due to the force.

“Hydraulics” are another river danger that can cause personal injury or death. These are rock formations or other obstructions just beneath the surface of the water. If you are approaching a hydraulic, a general rule of thumb is if it is “smiling” (the water ripples resemble a smiling mouth), it is usually okay to navigate through. If the hydraulic is “frowning” (the ripples resemble a frowning mouth), do your best to avoid this area or take your canoe out and walk past the obstruction.

Did you have a personal injury on a float trip and think it is not your fault? Call our office at 314-862-7222 to discuss if you have a possible claim.


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