River and stream crossings present one of the most hazardous situations faced by the military mountaineer. The following safety procedures are minimum guidelines that should be followed when conducting a river or stream crossing.
a. All weak and nonswimmers should be identified before a crossing so that stronger swimmers may give assistance in crossing.
b. Not every river or stream can be crossed safely. It is always possible to cross at a different time or place, use a different technique, or choose another route.
c. The technique used is directly dependent upon water depth, speed of the current, stream bottom configuration, width of the stream, and individual experience.
d. The safest methods of crossing are always with the use of a handline or one-rope bridge.
e. If the installation of a handline or rope bridge becomes too difficult at a given crossing site, then that site should be considered too hazardous and another site selected.
f. A lookout should be posted 50 to 100 meters upstream to watch for any obstacles that may be carried downstream and interfere with the crossing.
g. When conducting individual crossings (those without a handline or rope bridge), lifeguards should be posted downstream with poles or ropes prepared to throw, for assistance or rescue.
h. When the unit knows a rope installation will be required for crossing, at least two life vests or other PFDs should be on hand to provide additional safety for the strong swimmer who must establish the far anchor, and the last man across who retrieves the system.
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