Damsel's Tippets on River Safety:
Walking or Wading Staff. Having a "third leg" in a wading staff is sometimes a good thing to have. As balance gets a bit trickier as you get older, the wading stick is very helpful. It could be the difference in you falling in or staying dry.
A Firm Foundation. As you stand... widen your base in the river. As you walk in the river, make sure your knee flex increases as you get deeper into the water or as the current increases in speed. Flex your knees to lower your center of gravity. This will also keep you from getting your feet crossed and tangled up. You want to slide your feet, not cross them! (or cross your eyes...that wouldn't help)
Take It Slow. Carefulness rather than carelessness is the name of the game when wading in a river. Taking time to evaluate the situation can prevent serious injury. Keeping your moves slow and controlled will help you from falling too. There are many hazards which lie underneath the water... ie: fallen branches, moss, large rocks. I have tripped up on these things, so I speak from experience. There is never a need to rush on the river. Just take it slow.
Wading Belt. Did you know that when you wear that belt over your waders, that you are helping yourself stay dry if you take a dunk? Yep, you might get the top half soaked, but your feet and legs will stay dry most of the time if you have put on a wading belt. So, you can change into a dry shirt and continue your day. And by preventing extra water to go down into your lower waders, they will be lighter weight when you finally do get up and out! Huge help...
Felt Bottom Soles or Rubber Soles w/Studs. Both have great traction on the bottom of a river and will help you out with balancing in slippery conditions. Your walk on dry land can also be helped with the proper footwear.
But, it's the hat that matters when climbing over a large tree... not the shoes. Right, Kirk Werner?
Take advantage of a slower current when moving upstream or crossing the river. This is a no-brainer! But, I have to emphasize this, because it is the most important tip here. You have to find slower water or more shallow water to really wade easily. Otherwise, you are better off just casting from the bank side or from the peanut gallery! And there is nothing wrong with that, if you feel more comfortable with the conditions that are around you.
Never take a risk. I have a few times. And I'm not proud of it. A lapse of good judgement can cost you your life. I stewed about crossing back over the river for about an hour yesterday. The river had gone up a few inches at least by the end of the day. The water was swift and my balance...well, sucks! So, it was scary to say the least. Yes, I could have stayed on that side of the river until I got help... or until the water went down hopefully the next day. But, I'm no good with coyotes or snakes in the middle of the night. So, I looked over at my river buddy who made it over to the other side already. Jeri and I thought we had found the best stretch for me to cross back over. Slowly, surely, toes pointed upstream as I crossed, I made it 3/4 of the way. Then, it got deeper and the current got swifter and I could feel my foot slipping. What did I do? I said a prayer. A quick one, but my heart pounded and I knew that my concentration couldn't be disturbed in any way now. I looked forward at Jeri, and she coaxed me forward and told me not to stop. Because if I had, the current would have taken tired legs under. So, I kept moving slow, and the slipping foot was shuffled up once again so I could get myself to the bank safely. Crazy, that the hardest part would be at the end, rather than the middle! But, without Jeri being there to keep me going in a positive manner, I might have not had the focus to make it across. Thank you, thank you, Jeri. And thanks to the guardian angels that were with me too.
Know your terrain and what you can handle. Easy wading can bring good fish to the net too! This river is just my speed. Low water conditions without spring run off... And the results were great!
Slow moving water is my friend. There is always time for riffles though... I'm just not walking through them to the other side! = )
You don't have to take the extra steps or the trek across the river to put you into conditions that you are not comfortable in. I waded across this wider river with friends. Another important tip... bring a buddy to cross the bigger rivers with when you can safely get across.
Stay safe out there, friends!! And I will too.