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Research Injury Rates During Water-Based Wilderness Recreation



This study came about after the author approached several people in the wilderness- recreation field about their risk-management practices, especially those related to training people who lead trips involving water exposure. The author was surprised that no widely accepted standards exist for training trip leaders or for the skills they need to deal with cases of water emergency. Some people even speculated that injury rates would increase if more water-safety training were conducted because injury rates during land-based activities were assumed to be greater. Although it was outside the scope of this effort to test all current opinions about wilderness water safety held by every practitioner in the field, the author hopes that this study will initiate more conversation about a topic that has not gotten much attention. The purpose of the study was to compare injury rates between water-based wilderness recreation and other backcountry activities and investigate whether more needs to be done to reduce the probability of injury during water-related backcountry activities.

Authors: G. Dean Witman

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