What Are Strainers On A River?

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Strainers on a river can be a dangerous hazard when you’re kayaking, canoeing or fishing. But what causes them and why are they so dangerous?

To help you look out for these river hazards we’ve put together this short guide so that you can stay safe on the water.

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​What Is A River Strainer?

Strainers are created by obstructions in the water. They can be a dangerous feature of a river or a stream because they can cause you to become trapped against the blockage. These hazards catch debris, boats and other objects, while forcing water through the small gaps in the obstruction.

A river strainer occurs when there is an obstruction in the water that only smaller amounts of water can pass through at a time.

The strainer can be caused by various objects, including natural and manmade obstructions, such as tree branches, submerged vehicles or even fences.

It essentially strains the river of larger debris, boats and even people or animals, allowing only the water to filter through the small gaps within the obstruction. This can be similar to when you drain your pasta or vegetables in a strainer or colander.

​What Is The Danger Of A Strainer?

A strainer can cause you to become pinned against the object causing the obstruction. The small gaps are generally too small for you to be able to pass through, but water can still be forced through.

​Video: So ​That's ​What ​A ​Strainer ​Is!

This can be very dangerous as it could cause you to flip your kayak or canoe and you could become pinned underwater.

To help avoid being caught in a strainer, it can be a good idea to scout the river before you paddle it. This can help you to identify any obstructions in advance, allowing you to take steps to avoid them.

It can also be important to make sure you have on suitable safety gear, such as a well-fitting PFD (Personal Flotation Device) and a helmet.

You might find it helpful to have others with you when you head out, so that if you do happen to get trapped in a strainer, you have someone there to help rescue you.

​Video: Sweepers ​And Strainers

​In Conclusion

It can be a good idea to try to avoid strainers in rivers or streams, even if you’re only paddling on mild rapids. It can also be helpful to check out the river beforehand, especially if it’s a river you’ve never paddled.

Remember to always wear your PFD when you’re on the water and try to bring someone along with you. Strainers can be dangerous hazards, so it can be important to follow local safety advice and use common sense when running rivers.

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