River Safety

Safety is a top priority for Wild Wisco Waters Canoe & Kayak Outfitters.

Please review safety guidelines below and contact us with any questions or concerns. 

River Conditions

River Flow: The Wisconsin River current is strong enough to sweep you off your feet at normal flow rates and the strength of the current can be hard to see from the shoreline or the edge of a sandbar. Even experienced swimmers may not be able to swim against it.

River flow can change overnight with excessive rain or via water released at the Kilbourn Dam in The Wisconsin Dells. Learning what the water levels are doing can help you determine if your campsite is high enough and if you need to be prepared for a quick exit.

When you’re out on the water, putting a stick in the ground at the water’s edge will allow you to see if the river is rising or falling.  Feel free to ask us about what the water levels might be during the course of your trip.  You can also call 1-800-242-1077 to get an automated recording of river levels at the dam.

Basic Safety Considerations 

  • The Current: If you’re wading and lose your footing, do not swim against the current. Float downstream until you bump into another sandbar where you can safely get out of the water.

  • Shifting Sandbars: Sandbars are constantly moving, and the downstream end is often unstable and will sometimes not support a person walking on it (think quicksand). This is particularly true when the sandbar is covered by a few inches of water. However, if sand looks dry, it’s almost certainly solid ground (as far as piles of sand are concerned).

  • Strainers: Avoid swimming or paddling near trees that have fallen into the river. Even in slow water, these ‘sweepers’ and ‘strainers’ can capsize your boat and pin you underwater.

  • Drop Offs: The water depth on the downstream side of a sandbar can drop from a few inches to as much as 12 feet in the course of a couple of steps.  Typically this drop is only a few feet, but the downstream side should be avoided anyway.  Instead, wading into the river to the sides or upstream of the sandbar will allow you to get back to the same sandbar if there are any problems.

  • Drownings: Wear a life jacket. Life jackets will keep you on top of the water if you walk off an unexpected drop-off.  

Environmental Factors 

Nature is beautiful but can be dangerous as well. Below are some basic environmental dangers you should be aware of before heading out on the River.


  • Sun:  Always apply sunscreen, even in overcast conditions. Wear a hat and bring extra layers to protect yourself from the sun

  • Poison Ivy: A very common plant that can be found along the River's shoreline that can cause an itchy reaction to humans. Learn how to identify the plant and avoid contact

  • Mosquitoes: A human biting insect that are prevalent along shorelines & River backwaters. Use repellent and camp on sandbars away from the shoreline to keep their annoyance to a minimum

  • Thunder & Lightning: 

    • Step 1: ​Get off the water 

    • Step 2: Seek Shelter 

      • If no shelter get low but don't lay on the ground 

    • Step 3: Avoid objects that conduct electricity

    • Step 4:  Monitor the storm

      • if strike occurs apply 1st aid and call 911

Emergency Services

Accidents happen that's why it is important to have a charged cellphone with you and to know where you are on the River so you can communicate your location when you call 911