Canyon white water rafting or shooting rapids in a kayak or canoe is an experience more exciting than any roller coaster. But remember these sports can turn deadly in the event of a flash flood.
Whatever craft you’re using, you need to pack basic equipment. A waterproof bag is a starting place, something to keep your food and most valuable gear, including things like a camera , a waterproof flashlight, your goggles (when you’re not wearing them to protect your eyes), and a first aid kit, although the Paddler by Adventure Medical Kits comes in its own drybag and includes both an emergency blanket for two people as well as waterproof matches. On the water, whether it’s smooth or not, you should be wearing a flotation device, and a helmet to protect your head from rocks.
The absolute best way to survive flash floods is to avoid them. Before you start, check the weather forecast. If it includes thunderstorms or heavy rain, even 30 miles away, be aware that a flash flood is likely, so don’t go. The waterways feeding the river are likely to fill or overflow with rainfall or snow melt, then enter your river all at once, creating a flash flood. Having a portable waterproof radio can help you keep track of weather conditions and help you avoid floods.
Keep an eye on the sky and the water upstream as you run the river. If you see thunderheads, afar away, get out of the water and get to high ground, out of the canyon if possible. If you hear a sudden loud rushing noise, get out and to high ground as fast as you can. A flash flood comes down a canyon like a wall of water, and you may have little time to get out.
If you can’t get out, hang on to your raft and kayak, even if it capsizes, and try to use your paddles to push away from rocks and debris in the water. You may survive the flash flood with a great story to tell.
(Sources: http://www.secretsofsurvival.com/survival/flood_flash_floods.html, http://www.disastercenter.com/guide/flood.html ; http://www.frankstehno.com/sagemesa/guide/bcconsiderations/rivers.htm#ff )