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The Ottawa New Edinburgh Club is committed to providing and encouraging a safe and enjoyable rowing experience.


Rowing Safety Rules


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.  See here for an example.

  • 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.