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The Ottawa New Edinburgh Club is committed to providing and encouraging a safe and enjoyable rowing experience.
Rowing is a physically demanding, outdoor, on-water sport.  Like all sports there are inherent dangers that can be minimized by having a good understanding of technique and safety.  The following ONEC Rowing Safety Rules have been carefully developed to help you avoid an accident leading to personal injury.  It is imperative that all Rowing Members familiarize themselves with the following safety information, and apply this knowledge every time they are at the waterfront or out on the water.

A good place to begin is with a review of the online Rowing Canada Safety Modules.  They can be accessed here.  All ONEC Rowing Members are required to do the online Safety Modules annually.

The Ottawa River can range from slow, warm and calm to cold, fast, windy and treacherous.  There is also significant boating traffic on the Ottawa River (Yachts, Speed boats, Sea-Doos) and the potential for a boating collision exists.  We also share the river with other rowers from the Ottawa Rowing Club who follow similar Safety Rules, including Ottawa River Rowing Traffic Patterns.   Good knowledge of the Traffic Patterns is crucial so that you don't end up on the wrong side of the river and in the path of oncoming rowing traffic.  Please memorize them.  The area of the Ottawa River where you will most likely encounter other Rowers is when you are crossing the river from the ONEC Waterfront docks to the west tip of Kettle Island.

Most ONEC rowing is done un-accompanied by a coach boat and so it is important that you are prepared for self-rescue.  There is little emergency assistance on the Ottawa river.  Dispatch time is lengthy. Call 911, and indicate a “marine emergency on the Ottawa River”. In an emergency, you will probably be relying on the assistance of other rowers and boaters.  Read the ONEC Rowing Emergency Action Plan.

We are also focused on making Touring a safe experience and encourage all rowers to familiarize themselves with our Guidelines for Touring.

Rowers must:

  • Obey the Cold Water Policy

  • Obey Ottawa River Rowing Traffic Patterns

  • Carry a personal flotation device or lifejacket of appropriate size for each person on board.

  • Carry a sound signaling device.

  • Carry a watertight flashlight if out after sunset or before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility (additionally we recommend flashing LED lights be applied to bow and stern).

  • Carry a cell phone in order to contact emergency services if required.

  • Refrain from rowing in dangerous conditions including: Thunder & Lightning, Fog, High winds & Waves (if you see whitecaps, do not go out onto the river), High humidex.

  • Reserve their boat in advance on the boat reservation system used as the Official ONEC Rowing Logbook (applies to both club and private boats).

  • Be familiar with the ROW ONTARIO concussion policy.  Available here.

  • Exercise caution and courtesy at all times.

Rowers are strongly encouraged to:

  • Row using a buddy system (row in a double or quad, or with other single shells).

  • Let your emergency contact person or a family member know about your plans to row on the river, and where you are intending to row (eg. towards Parliament Hill, Gatineau River, Kettle or Duck Islands).

  • Purchase and wear an inflatable life jacket, particularly if rowing alone.  These life jackets are low profile, can be worn around the waist and do not interfere with body mechanics required for rowing.  

  • Purchase and wear a sound signaling device (we recommend a Fox 40 whistle) on your person so that it is easily accessible.

  • Participate in ONEC Rowing Safety seminars and demonstrations.  Dates will be communicated to the membership by Email.


In the event of a capsize

  • Inflate or put on your life-jacket immediately. It minimizes heat and energy loss.

  • Blow your whistle, in bursts of three (the signal for “help me”).

  • Stay with the boat, it floats. Use the boat to get to shore.

  • If you decide to swim for shore without the boat, take the oars – they float.

  • For information on how to return a capsized shell, have a look at this video.


Avoiding Injury


Safety begins with good health and avoiding injury, so it is important for you to consult with your coaches and health practitioners regarding any health concerns you may have prior to the start of the rowing season. Although rowing is a great sport for fitness and overall health, like any sport there is the potential to sustain injury. The good news is that these injuries often take time to develop and provides the opportunity to intervene early and seek the attention of a health professional.


Cold Water Safety


Cold water safety rules apply when water temperatures are under 17°C.  Please read the following Rules if you are interested in colder water rowing (typically in late May and October).  The Red Season Rowing program will not be running in 2022.

Hot Weather and Hyperthermia

  • As with cold weather, preparation and prevention are important in protecting against the effects of heat.

  • All persons need to wear protective clothing appropriate for the conditions and their activity.

  • Use of sun block with a high SPF factor.

  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after exposure to hot weather.

  • Address any symptoms of heat exhaustion immediately (faint or dizzy, excessive sweating, cool, pale, clammy skin, nausea or vomiting, rapid, weak pulse, muscle cramps) by moving the affected individual to a cool environment quickly and providing them sips of water if they are fully conscious.  

  • Recognize this signs of heat stroke (throbbing headache, reduced sweating, body temperature above 103F, red, hot dry skin, nausea or vomiting, rapid, strong pulse, loss of consciousness) and treat as a Medical Emergency - Dial 911

  • Take immediate action to try and cool the affected individual until help arrives.  Do not give fluids to someone suffering from heat stroke.

Other Safety Considerations


The ONEC docks require ongoing repairs due to natural wear and tear.  If you notice any damage to the docks that could pose a safety hazard, please e-mail  Examples of hazards may include: exposed nails, rotten boards, poor flotation.  Additionally, the docks can become quite slippery especially if the Canadian Geese have been visiting.  No boats are allowed out on the water until the docks have been brushed clean.  The dock brush will be available at the shoreline next to the Equipment bin.


Please ensure all Equipment is in good working order prior to heading out onto the water.  If you notice any damaged equipment that could pose a safety hazard, do not use it to row and e-mail​


If you are accompanied by a coach safety boat, you are not required to carry on board a personal flotation device or sound signaling device.  Instead, the safety boat is required to carry a personal flotation device or lifejacket of appropriate size for each person on board the safety craft as well as the rowing shell; or for each person on board the rowing shell with the most persons on board, if the safety craft is attending more than one rowing shell.​

Currently we do not have a phone at the waterfront.  For this reason, it is imperative you carry a cell phone with you at all times on the shoreline and when in your boat.​

In the springtime, the current can be stronger, typically up stream near the mouth of the Gatineau River and the middle of the Ottawa River.​

Don’t forget to carry your sound signaling device and have your life jacket with you when rowing.​  Should you have further safety concerns, please contact the RC via our club manager at and our Rowing Safety Officer will be happy to answer any and all questions regarding safety policy at ONEC.

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