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Safety Policies

LLRC SAFETY BULLETIN #5: Lightning … The Underrated Killer!
LLRC SAFETY BULLETIN #6: Cold Weather Policy


LLRC SAFETY BULLETIN #1: YOUR ‘ROW BAG (Borrowed, in part, from Mike Woodmansee’s article in a 2003 issue of the LLRC Newsletter.)
The weather can change significantly during the hours leading up to a practice. Therefore, rowers should come to each practice prepared for anything. In this regard, it is recommended that each rower prepare and carry a ‘row bag’ containing personal items for each workout.

A well-prepared rower should have these items in their row bag (as a minimum):

  • long and short rowing trou (*)
  • rainjacket with hood (*)
  • long and short-sleeved shirt and tank top (*)
  • fleece top (*)
  • windpants/rainpants (*)
  • brimmed cap and winter hat
  • dock shoes
  • gloves or pogies
  • warm socks
  • water bottle
  • sports drink powder
  • snacks (granola bars etc.)
  • change of clothes
  • plastic bag for wet clothes
  • sunscreen (non-greasy)
  • bug spray
  • sports tape and antibiotic ointment
  • your training log (in a plastic bag)
  • towel
  • blinkies
  • sunglasses (rimless, for checking over your shoulder)

Items marked with an asterisk (*) should be snug fitting, particularly around the torso to avoid catching the oar handles or seat tracks/wheels.
Clothing items should be synthetic or wool (i.e. NO COTTON). Good materials include: polyester, polypropylene, nylon, Lycra, Gore-Tex and Ultrex. Check the tags. Some name-brand sports apparel items which carry names like DRI-FIT may contain cotton and therefore may not be suitable for your needs.
The color of your outer garments is important for your safety on the water. Chartreuse, bright yellow and international orange shirts, jackets and hats are much more visible at greater distances than those that are brown, blue, maroon, dark green, black or even white. We share the lake with jet skiers, fishermen, wake boarders, water skiers and other high speed water craft. At least one person in each shell should wear a high visibility garment during practice or while recreational rowing.

Borrowed, in part, from FISA’s Minimum Guidelines for the Safe Practice of Rowing and the ARA Water Safety Code.

Hypothermia occurs when the whole of the body has been chilled to a much lower than normal body temperature, ie., below 95 degrees F. The following are the most usual symptoms and signs, but not all may be present:

  • Unexpected and unreasonable behavior possibly accompanied by complaints of coldness and tiredness.
  • Physical and mental lethargy with failure to understand a question or orders.
  • Slurring of speech
  • Violent outburst of unexpected energy and violent language, becoming uncooperative.
  • Failure of, or abnormality in, vision.
  • Twitching.
  • Lack of control of limbs, unsteadiness and complaining of numbness and cramp.
  • General shock with pallor and blueness of lips and nails.
  • Slow weak pulse, wheezing and coughing.

Avoidance must be the first consideration at all times. Dress to beat the cold - layers of clothing are more effective than one warm garment. The outer layer should be wind and waterproof. Look out for the extremities. The head and neck are major sources of heat loss. To reduce this loss, wear some sort of head gear.

Be alert to the warning signs of cold both in yourself and others. Coaches of veterans, lightweights, beginners and young children must be particularly aware of the risks to them of exposure to the cold. Exposed arms, legs and head heighten the risk.

Sudden immersion in cold water can have a shock effect which can disrupt normal breathing, reducing even a proficient swimmer to incompetence. Confusion and an inability to respond to simple instructions will become evident.

If a person has fallen into cold water their body will lose heat rapidly. To reduce heat loss, keep clothes on, while still in the water, except for heavy coats or boots which may drag the person down. When hypothermia is suspected, the aims must be to prevent the victim from losing more body heat and to rewarm the victim.

  • Do not take or give alcohol in cold conditions. Alcohol accelerates heat loss as well as impairing judgement.
  • Send for help. Hypothermia is a medical emergency whether the patient is conscious or unconscious.
  • If conscious, the victim should be rewarmed under careful observation.
  • If unconscious, the victim must be taken to medical aid as soon as possible.

A very dangerous situation is still present when a person who has been in the water for some time, is taken out. Further heat loss must be prevented The victim must be protected against wind and rain as much as possible.

  • Rewarming can be carried out by:
  • Removing wet clothing (if applicable)
  • Wrapping the victim in a thermal/exposure blanket.
  • Others placing their warm bodies against the victim.
  • Giving warm drinks (if conscious), but not alcohol.


As part of our plan to increase awareness of safety issues related to the sport of rowing, we have designated one of the metal lockers at the entrance to Bay 1 for storage of various safety materials. The locker is marked “SAFETY GEAR”. By consolidating important safety equipment in one location, the members will have ready access to items that may be needed in an emergency.

The following items are currently stored in the locker:
a. A supply of wearable personal flotation devices (PFDs), i.e., life jackets. All LLRC power boats are equipped with adequate PFDs matched to the maximum capacity of each boat;  however, there may be occasions when additional PFDs are needed. PFDs are also provided in childrens’ sizes. Georgia law requires all children under 10 years of age to wear a PFD while onboard any moving open boat such as a skiff or referee launch.

b. Four yellow safety gear bags each containing two blankets of synthetic material and eight survival (space) blankets. During cold weather (from 1 November to 1 April), one of those  bags of blankets should be taken on each safety launch to be available for treatment of hypothermia. The blanket bag should be returned to the locker after each practice.

c. A large first aid kit. This is the same kit that accompanies the race team on trips to regattas and thus may not be available at all times. Note that all LLRC power boats are equipped with a small first aid kit at all times.

d. A small fire extinguisher.

e. A supply of Safety Bulletins that are in effect.

Additional items will be added to the locker as they become available.

If you have occasion to remove items from the locker, please ensure that those items are returned immediately following use. If items have been lost or damaged, notify the Executive Director so replacements can be obtained.

If you use items from the first aid kit, notify the Executive Director so the kit can be restocked.

A bulletin board is attached to the locker. A list of important phone numbers is posted. The times for sunrise, sunset and the lake water temperature are also posted. Safety Bulletins and additional safety related notices will also be posted from time to time.


We share the lake with a large number of fishermen, jet skiers, wake boarders, power boaters, and canoe/kayak paddlers. While most of these lake users are familiar with safe boating practices and procedures, many are not. Therefore any discussion of a traffic pattern must be prefaced with the warning that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAINTAINING AN ALERT LOOKOUT FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY AS WELL AS THE SAFETY OF OTHERS. DON’T RELY ON THE OTHER BOAT TO PREVENT THE COLLISION. BE ALERT, BE PROACTIVE!

The information that follows describes the desired behavior of members of the Lake Lanier Rowing Club when on-the-water in the vicinity of the venue. This traffic pattern applies to all practice sessions, learn-to-row, college spring break and recreational rowing. Traffic patterns for regattas (although they may be similar) will be published separately.

This traffic pattern has been provided to the Lanier Canoe Kayak Club. LCKC paddlers typically move from point to point via the shortest route. While that path may coincide in many areas with this LLRC Traffic Pattern, paddlers may deviate significantly from the pattern. LCKC athletes are welcome to follow this pattern. It is important to remember that young and/or novice rowers and paddlers are focused on the fundamentals of their sport and may not be fully aware of traffic patterns or other safe boating practices. It is incumbent on LLRC members to set the example for others.

Traffic pattern

Traffic pattern illustration

This traffic pattern in its simplest form is a series of counter-clock-wise ovals or loops. The pattern requires that the rower stay closest to the shore on the right hand (starboard) side as viewed from the coxswain’s position. The illustrations that accompany this Bulletin provide details for specific areas of the pattern.
The launch area in front of the boat house: This area is often congested as athletes from both clubs frequently launch at the same time. Paddlers moving to and from the bridge cross the pattern at right angles very close to the launch dock. Groups of paddlers may also be in the area close to the launch dock, blocking your departure. If you need help to clear a path out into the bay, ask for assistance, preferably from a coach. When the launch area is clear and it is safe to proceed, row slowly out into the bay for 150 to 200 meters.

The bay in front of the boathouse and extending on toward Laurel Park: If you are going to the Olympic course side, turn to port and proceed toward the West end of the “No Wake” zone buoy line, keeping the buoys to your starboard, eventually to the South (Gainesville) end of the bridge. If you intend to row in the bay or toward Laurel Park, continue rowing toward the West end of the bay. Be alert for paddlers practicing on the North side of the bay. As you approach the West end of the bay, you should turn to port to follow one of three loop patterns. First, you may turn sharply to port to continue rowing in a small loop within the “No Wake” zone. This loop is frequently used by novice rowers and during learn-to-row sessions. Second, you may continue in a larger loop crossing the buoy line and returning along the South shore of the bay toward the bridge. Third, you may continue on to the Laurel Park area, always keeping to starboard. On returning from Laurel Park, as you round the bend and enter the bay, you should continue along the South shore and eventually turn to port to join the pattern returning from the bridge toward the boathouse to continue either loop or to return to the boathouse.

Crossing under Clarks Bridge: A separate illustration is provided to show the traffic pattern in the bridge area. THIS IS A DANGEROUS AREA. PROCEED WITH CAUTION AND MAINTAIN AN ALERT LOOKOUT FOR OTHER WATERCRAFT.

Limestone Creek: After passing under the bridge at the South (Gainesville) end, you may turn to starboard to enter Limestone Creek. This is a popular area used by paddlers because it is more protected from the wind and from power boats than other areas. There is an island about half way back in the creek. You may row around this island but should not venture farther back in the creek. The creek eventually becomes very shallow and narrow. As you exit the creek, you may turn to port to continue the loop or return to the venue end of the bridge or turn to starboard to join the Olympic course traffic pattern.

The Olympic course extending North toward the head race start area: After passing under the bridge or exiting Limestone Creek, you should continue to row along the East side of the course. At any point, you may turn to port to return toward the bridge along the West side of the course forming a long narrow loop. Paddlers frequently practice in groups close to the West side of the course between the tower and 1000 meters. As you approach the tower, you may turn sharply to port to continue the loop or turn gradually to port to row into Limestone Creek or continue to the bridge.

LLRC SAFETY BULLETIN #5: Lightning … The Underrated Killer!

The following is the text of the "Coaches & Sports Officials Guide to Lightning Safety" published by NOAA's National Weather Service:

Each year in the United States, more than 400 people are struck by lightning On average, about 70 people are killed and many others suffer permanent neurological disabilities. Most of these tragedies can be avoided if proper precautions are taken When thunderstorms threaten, coaches and sports officials must not let the desire to start or complete an athletic activity hinder their judgment when the safety of participants and spectators is in jeopardy.

Know the basic facts about lightning and its dangers:
•           All thunderstorms produce lightning and are dangerous. In an average year, lightning kills more people in the U S. than either tornadoes or hurricanes.
•           Lightning often strikes outside the area of heavy rain and may strike as far as 10 miles from any rainfall. Many deaths from lightning occur ahead of storms because people wait too long before seeking shelter, or after storms because people return outside too soon.
•           If you hear thunder, you are in danger. Anytime thunder is heard, the thunderstorm is close enough to pose an immediate lightning threat to your location.
•           Lightning leaves many victims with permanent disabilities. While only a small percentage of lightning strike victims die, many survivors must learn to live with very serious, lifelong disabilities. Avoid the lightning threat.
•           Plan ahead. Have a lightning safety plan. Know where people will go for safety and how much time it will take them to get there have specific guidelines for suspending the event or activity so that everyone has time to reach safety Follow the plan without exception.
•           Postpone activities. Prior to a practice or event, check the latest forecast. If thunderstorms are forecast, consider postponing activities early to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation.
•           Monitor the weather. Watch and listen for clues of impending danger. Look for darkening skies, flashes of lightning, or increasing wind, which may be signs of a developing or approaching thunderstorm. Listen for thunder.
•           Get to a safe place. If you hear thunder, suspend your activity immediately and instruct  everyone to get to a safe place. Substantial buildings provide the best protection. Once inside, stay off corded phones and away from any wiring or plumbing. Avoid sheds, small or open shelters, dugouts, bleachers, or grandstands. If a sturdy building is not nearby, a hard-topped metal vehicle with the windows' closed will offer good protection.
•           Stay inside. Do not resume activities until 30 minutes have passed since the last thunder was heard.
What you should do if you can't get to a safe place. Being outside during a thunderstorm puts you at risk of being struck by lightning. The measures listed below will reduce that risk somewhat, but are no substitute for getting to a safe place.
•           Avoid open areas and stay away from isolated tall trees, towers, or utility poles. Lightning tends to strike the taller objects. •           Stay away from metal bleachers, backstops, and fences. Lightning can travel long distances through metal.
•          Spread out. This reduces the risk of multiple lightning casualties. If you feel your hair stand on end, lightning is about to strike. There may be little or nothing you can do to keep from being struck by lightning. As a last desperate resort:
•           Crouch down on the balls of your feet, put your hands over your ears, and bend your head down. Make yourself as small a target as possible and minimize your contact with the ground.
•           Do not lie flat on the ground. Know what to do if someone is struck by lightning. Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge, are safe to handle, and need immediate medical attention. Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death in lightning fatalities. Some deaths can be prevented if the victim immediately receives the proper first aid.
•           Call for help. Call 9-1-1 or your local ambulance service.
•           Give first aid. Check the victims pulse and breathing. Begin CPR if necessary. An Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) may also be useful if one is available.
•           If possible, move the victim to a safer place. An active thunderstorm is still dangerous. Don't let the rescuers become victims. Lightning CAN strike the same place twice. Stay informed, listen to NOAA Weather Radio!

There are an estimated 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes in the United States each year. While the National Weather Service issues severe thunderstorm watches and warnings for storms that produce damaging wind or hail, watches and warnings are NOT issued for lightning. However, the sound of thunder should serve as an immediate warning of the lightning danger.
As a further safety measure, officials at outdoor events may want to have a tone-alert NOAA Weather Radio. The radio will allow you to monitor any short-term forecasts for changing weather conditions, and the tone-alert feature can automatically alert you in case a severe thunderstorm watch or warning is issued. To find your nearest NOAA weather radio transmitter, go to and click on "Station Listing and Coverage."

A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM is defined as a storm that produces wind gusts of 58 mph or greater, and/or hail 3/4 of an inch or larger in diameter,
A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH is issued when conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop.
A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING is issued when severe weather is imminent. Lightning Kills ... Play it Safe!

LLRC SAFETY BULLETIN #6: Cold Weather Policy

The purpose of this Bulletin is to increase member awareness of the dangers of cold water rowing and to insure that Lake Lanier Rowing Club, its members and employees, will not be held liable for accidents, injury or death resulting from exposure to extreme conditions. Hypothermic conditions can exist because of low air temperature, low water temperature, high wind, waves and other environmental factors. Cold water is especially dangerous because loss of body heat occurs 25 times faster in cold water than in cold air. The potential danger for hypothermia is greatest during the period between 1 November and 1 April when the water temperature is below 80 degrees F. and becomes very dangerous when the water temperature is below 50 degrees F.

The telephone number to obtain the water temperature from the U S Army Corps of Engineers is posted on the Safety Bulletin Board. A weather radio (stored in the Safety Gear locker) can be used to obtain local weather conditions including air temperature as well as forecast conditions.

During this period, individual rowers seeking permission for unaccompanied use of LLRC facilities or equipment (without a safety launch present) are required to execute a LLRC COLD WATER / SEVERE WEATHER RELEASE form and have it on file in the club office.

Members must also review LLRC Safety Bulletin #2 regarding Hypothermia and heed the warnings therein regarding dressing appropriately and recognizing the risks and signs of hypothermia. When possible, members should try to arrange to row in groups with other members. Rowing alone in a single is not recommended.
During scheduled practices, coaches and launch drivers should be aware that each skiff is equipped with 10 wearable life jackets plus one throwable personal flotation device (PFD). When large groups are practicing under less than ideal conditions, extra PFDs should be carried in the launch. There are bags of extra PFDs in the Safety Gear locker. There are also bags of blankets in the Safety Gear locker. Each bag has two synthetic blankets and 8 space blankets. A blanket bag should be taken out with each launch.

It also advisable to boat groups, especially the more novice rowers, in the larger boats (4s, quads and 8s) to minimize the chances of capsizing. All boats should try to stay in close proximity to the safety launch to enable the launch to respond quickly to an emergency situation.