How to stay safe while bringing out the kayak or canoe

Published: May. 28, 2020 at 6:17 PM EDT
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With spring in full force, rivers tend to rise with more rainfall. This can pose some hazards for people that want to bring out the kayak or canoe.

"We're seeing with all these spring rains and with the water rapidly rising and falling is that debris are being washed into the river," said Douglas Gooden, captain of Rockingham County Fire and Rescue.

Debris known as strainers in the river can cause trouble, especially if you cannot see it. It's important to scout the area where you want to venture out to get a better scope of what's in the water.

"So most commonly we find strainers to be tree limbs, trees, branches and stuff of that nature.. but it could also be fence posts and any debris that's been washed into the river," said Gooden.

Gooden says if your kayak or canoe approaches a strainer, to aggressively paddle away. Sometimes river currents are so strong, if you get caught by the strainer, you may get stuck.

With added hazards to the water, such as strainers, it's important that you look at water levels before you head out. Water levels in the river can vary from week to week.

The app Flood Watch, available on iOS and Android, can give you river levels for your area. You can also check the status of flood gauges on