Sunday, February 26, 2012

Breathe When There's Daylight

Whenever we go rafting and have completed the rigging of the boats and everyone is ready to go, we take the time to go over the safety lecture. There are many safety measures that are important to remember. So repetition is a good thing. In the stress of an emergency moment it may be difficult to remember what to do. 

One of the safety measures discussed has to do with the unforeseen moment when you find yourself outside the raft in a rapid. That event usually happens when you get knocked out of the boat by a large wave, or if the boat flips from a large wave or “hole.”

In the safety lecture we talk about making sure you orient your feet downstream to be able to push off of rocks and other obstacles you may encounter. We also recommend just holding on to your lifejacket and relaxing whenever possible and not try to swim as the current is typically very strong in a rapid and not worth expending any energy unnecessarily trying to fight the current.

What most people do not realize until it happens to them is when you are swimming a rapid you do not bob up and over the top of each wave. What really happens is you get pulled through the middle of the wave. So the experience is more like getting hit in the face with waves over and over again, one right after another.

That can be alarming and make it very difficult to breathe if you panic. So in the safety lecture we continually stress that if you find yourself outside of the boat in a rapid to 1) orient your feet downstream, 2) hold onto your life jacket, and 3) breathe when you see daylight. Then we remind everyone that help is on the way from the rafts that are running the rapid together. That’s why one of the most important safety rules is to raft together in a group. Always travel with at least two boats.

In the safety lecture the very best thing we can do is to keep it simple. If you can just remember “breathe when there is daylight” then you can settle down and start breathing in a sequence that actually makes it quite easy to have plenty of air in most rapids.

In life we can often feel like the waves of adversity are coming at us at such a pace that we feel we have no time to do anything to remedy the situation. Even though our point of view makes it appear that it’s just wave after wave with no time to breathe, in most cases there really is space in-between waves of adversity where we can take the opportunity to evaluate the situation (breathe) before the next wave.

In many cases, if you are able to calm down, take a few minutes or hours to evaluate what’s really happening, you’ll find you can survive the situation, and more importantly, find that help is really not far away at all. And be sure that you don’t try and go it alone.

(c) DTE Consulting 2012 "Helping You Do The Extraordinary!"