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Some Saco River & Water Safety Points
We want everyone to have a fun and safe excursion outside. Conditions can change quickly, so be prepared whenever you are in a natural environment.
THE RISKS MENTIONED BELOW ARE SOME OF THE MOST OBVIOUS, SPECIFIC RISKS AND ARE MEANT TO BE HELPFUL TO YOU IN MAKING YOUR DECISION TO GO BOATING BUT ARE NOT IN ANY WAY A FULL LIST OF RISKS ON A RIVER TRIP.
GOOD JUDGMENT: Exercise good judgment while crossing roads, swimming, (DIVING, BANK JUMPING), using rope swings or in other potentially dangerous situations. Saco Bound, Inc., is not to be held responsible for poor judgment on my part. I realize the river environment is constantly changing and requires judgment decisions on my part.
LIFE JACKETS: Each person must possess a PFD by law. Although the Saco is normally shallow, there are deep holes. Therefore, we strongly recommend all persons, and especially non-swimmers and children wear their life jacket any time they are near the water. There are no life guards at any Saco River facilities.
COLD: When water and air temperatures are cold, the risk of hypothermia is great during a capsize. Numbness and loss of use of arms and legs can occur within seconds under these conditions. Make sure to stay warm and dry after capsize.
HIGH WATER: When the river is higher than normal trees that have fallen into the river pose an extreme danger as you can get swept and be pinned indefinitely resulting in hypothermia or drowning. Deep swift water has obvious dangers in terms of swimming to safety.
SWAN’S FALLS DAM: Swan’s Falls Dam is 6.5 miles downstream from Saco Bound. You must carry your boats around the dam on the right side. I realize there is danger to my life if I try to pass over or near the dam‚s edge, and that this danger is substantially increased in high water when the current is swift.
STEPS: Numerous put-ins and take-outs require negotiating STEEP STEPS, that should be done carefully, especially when the steps are sandy and/or wet. Also, steps and docks negotiability can be affected by changing river conditions.
HEAVY RAINFALL: Heavy rainfall may result in rapidly rising water levels and dangerous river conditions. Camp on high ground and tie your canoe to a live tree (sandbars are not high ground). Rivers can rise many feet.
Capsize and Obstacles: River craft can flip over and in some cases make an exit from the craft more difficult. The Saco, in general, is not a very rocky river, but there are some rocks and a small rocky rapid (WALKER’S RIP & RED STONE). Capsizing around rocks, banks and docking systems presents the risk of hitting your head.
WALKER’S RIP: 2.7 miles downstream from Walker‚s Bridge (Route 302), there is a short rapid called Walker’s Rip. This rapid can break your boat into pieces, especially when the water is low. Be sure to pull out above this rapid and scout it before running, if you have any doubts about your ability to successfully negotiate this rapid, you should carry around, especially kayak renters.
Respect nature and leave NO trace! The river valley is a delicate ecological environment. Please practice NO TRACE principals. Pack out everything you bring in and always protect all vegetation and habitat areas
TRASH: Please be sure to carry out ALL that you carry in.
HUMAN WASTE: Bury human waste in 6 inches of soil, not in the sandy beaches.
GROUPS: Please respect the rights of others. Some people want to enjoy the PEACE AND QUIET of the river. Keep noise to a low level.
PRIVATE LAND: I realize that all of the land along the Saco River is private property. This includes the beaches. Most land owners do not mind if you stop along the river on their land, some do. Please respect the rights of those land owners who have posted their land and stay off and keep private property free of trash.
FIRES: A MAINE FIRE PERMIT IS REQUIRED FOR ALL OPEN FIRES(sandbars only)
TREES: Do not cut live trees — Use dead and down wood for fires.
NARROW ROADS: Many of the take-out and put-in roads are one lane. Please drive conservatively at 5MPH.
TAKE-OUT ETIQUETTE: The take-outs can be very busy. Please move your gear and canoes as quickly as possible and adhere to River Runner and Saco Bound staff directions
All youth groups must bring signed parental release forms.
It is against Saco Bound policy to consume alcohol in excess.