Walton Rowing Club Safety Code (updated December 2016)
- Almost any sport, and certainly any water sport, involves some risk. All those who take part should be aware of those dangers and must accept them, whilst trying to minimise them. Parents and guardians of junior members should also acquaint themselves with the dangers.
- As a general principle, every Club member is responsible for his or her own safety on and off the river. However, every member must also:
a) not behave in a way which endangers other members or the general public;
b) assist and advise other members who are less experienced; and
c) help, as far as practical, any person who gets into difficulty on the river.
- When you applied to join the club, you certified that you could swim 50 metres in light clothing. This is a minimum requirement; if you are not a strong swimmer, you should visit a swimming pool regularly and should aim to swim at least twice this distance in a tracksuit. Do not underestimate how difficult this is.
- If you are in any doubt about your fitness to row or train, ask your doctor before starting or restarting. Start gently, building fitness as you go. If you have any medical conditions which could affect you when rowing, make sure your crew (and coach, if applicable) know about it.
- Crews taking out a club boat must ensure that it is river-worthy. Note any minor defects and report them in the book provided as soon as possible; defects that could cause the boat to be dangerous (including missing bow balls or faulty heel restraints) must be repaired before the boat is used. Leave a red tag on the boat to warn other users.
- If you are using a private boat (whether your own or someone else’s) you must also ensure that it complies with the law and with British Rowing rules. It is your own responsibility to know these; the BR rules are to be found on www.britishrowing.org, and an extract of the relevant regulations is available from the Environment Agency (Thames Navigation Licensing and General Byelaws 1993).
- Rowing generally has a good safety record (at least as far as major injuries are concerned). But many minor injuries could be avoided:
a) make sure that you wear suitable clothes and non-slip shoes;
b) take care when lifting boats and, particularly, weights. Keep your back straight and if you have not been trained in weight-lifting, do not attempt to lift heavy weights. Junior members may not use any weights without permission from a qualified coach.
- First aid kits are kept in the kitchen and boathouse. A committee member checks their contents at least once a month, but if you use any item, fill in an Incident Form and mention what you have used. Members are strongly encouraged to attend first aid courses run by St John Ambulance and other organisations, and the Club will consider requests for financial assistance to attend these courses.
- Incident forms are kept in the book outside the office, and a form MUST be filled in for any incident, however minor, affecting safety in and around the club and on the river. Members wishing to draw the committee’s attention to any matters requiring attention on safety grounds may also use these forms.
- It is a senior crew’s own responsibility to judge whether river and weather conditions are suitable for boating. In cases of doubt, you must err on the side of caution. For junior crews, a coach will carry out a full risk assessment before boating. Inexperienced or junior members must follow the club’s strong stream policy and may not boat in “red-board” conditions. Outings after dark (even in private boats) are only allowed with the Captain’s permission and with lights. If you cause damage to a club boat when boating in conditions the committee judges unsuitable, you may be held liable for the cost of any repairs.
- Junior members may only boat unsupervised once they have received permission from a qualified coach, and they must follow any conditions imposed by the coach. Junior single scullers should not boat alone. Junior members are not allowed on the river after dark under any circumstances.
- On the river, crews must steer a course appropriate to the stream conditions and other craft on the river. The normal course to be followed is shown on the map attached to this code, and which is displayed in the boathouse. If you take a different course for any reason, you must use exceptional care to avoid obstacles and other boats.
- If you do fall into the river, stay with the boat and swim with it to the bank.
- A crew must obey its coxswain’s orders at all times on the water. The stroke or coach of the crew must also take some responsibility for steering and avoiding collisions and must train inexperienced coxswains.
- The club does not normally provide coaches except for juniors. Where a member is invited by a crew to give advice, he or she does not assume liability for the crew’s actions or for any injury or damage, but must exercise reasonable care.
- Coaching will normally be from the bank. Crews and coaches must take account of the fact that the coach cannot see the crew clearly at all times.
- The club maintains a safety boat, which can be launched by one and manned by two persons. It must be in a suitable position for launching at all times when crews are on the water. The safety boat may not be used for pleasure purposes, nor for any purpose other than safety when there are crews on the water. The safety boat equipment and fuel are checked by a committee member at least once a week, but any member using it must ensure that the bungs are fitted and there is an oar or paddle in the boat, together with a launch equipment bag.
- All committee members, coaches and other active members are encouraged to practise launching and driving the safety boat; sessions are arranged for this purpose from time to time.
- Life jackets and buoyancy aids are available in the clubhouse; they must be used by coxes of racing boats at all times, and by anyone using the safety boat. Coxes of bow-coxed (supine) boats must wear an inflatable life-jacket rather than a buoyancy aid, and must be aware how to inflate it.
- Under strong stream conditions there are particular hazards at the top of d’Oyly Carte and Desborough islands and at the three weirs; give these all a wide berth. Most accidents on the river involve collisions; scullers and those steering coxswainless boats must look round frequently, and all boats must take particular care at the downstream end of the Desborough Cut and round the Black Swan bend.
- If in doubt – ask!