BANKS, Idaho -- With Memorial Day now behind us and summer break in our sights, more and more people will be looking to beat the heat in one of Idaho s many rivers.

But like anything, if you are not prepared, you can experience problems.

It s unfortunate, but every year people get injured and even die on our rivers, and experts say most of those accidents can be avoided.

Whether you're on the Boise River or on a much bigger river like the Payette, safety is a big priority, and that means having the right equipment.

Right now, the whitewater on the Payette River is moving fast and hard.

Less forgiving I guess, said Kyle Kiehn. It's a lot faster. The waves can come at you quicker. If you do capsize, you have less time to recover. Don't do it right now unless you've got somebody capable of helping you out.

Less forgiving means smaller room for error.

Kenneth Long is an expert kayaker and general manager of Cascade Raft and Kayak. Every year he and his guides take thousands of people down the Payette River. He knows what the conditions are like right now on this waterway.

Right now everything is moving downstream very quickly and people can become caught off guard, or not be prepared for the speed of the water as well as the temperature of the water. It's really, really cold, said Long.

And that cold water can cause a lot of problems.

You get tired really fast. You hit that water, it shocks your system, sometimes you can't breathe real well, said Long.

Right now the Payette River is running around 10,000 cubic feet per second. Wait a couple months into July and it will be closer to 3,500 to 4,000 cubic feet per second.

While the river is high, it does not necessarily mean that it's dangerous. But because it's high, that means it's different and that different can be dangerous.

It's nice and warm, we figure the family came out for the weekend and just jump in the water, said Lonnie Baxter.

Lonnie Baxter and his group take safety very seriously. His group of six set out for the Payette River on Tuesday afternoon.

Without the safety first you're not going to have a very fun of a time. It's going to end really fast, said Baxter.

That safety includes having life jackets that fit, and proper equipment for your boat or raft.

Long says it's critical for people to operate within the parameters of their skill set. Over the last several years expert kayakers have died on these waters.

The trend in a lot of sports is to push it to the extreme. You've got X-games and extreme games all over and kayaking is no different. There are people that are pushing the boundaries of what we thought possible, said Long.

And that means that if you're a novice, these experts say now might not be the best time to go on the Payette River by yourself.

Wait, go play on the Boise River, it's a lot safer right now. The water's low over there. Always wear a life jacket even if you're on the Boise, said Andy McFarland who just finished kayaking a portion of the South Fork of the Payette called the Staircase.

If you're looking to kayak the Payette or float the Boise, know that the rivers are open year round, but there are times that are better than others.

On the Boise River that best time is usually after the fire department is able to remove the debris from the river, and that should happen in the next two to three weeks.

Bottom line, proper equipment, whether on the more tame Boise or on the Payette - is critical and life saving.

Read or Share this story: