Classic Paddling Films: The Uncalculated Risk (Video)

46 years later, the safety messages in this whitewater video still hold up

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The 1970s were a decade known for some fine filmmaking. The Godfather, Jaws, and the canoe tripping classic, Deliverance. In this era, even a safety video was delivered in an Oscar-caliber production, which brings us to The Uncalculated Risk.

As paddlesports grew in popularity in the 1970s, so did the occurrence of accidents. The American Red Cross picked up on the trend and produced a series of videos to educate prospective paddlers on the dangers they’ll encounter in the sport and how to avoid them. Perhaps their magnum opus, The Uncalculated Risk. Released in 1977, the short film has made the rounds in instruction over the years. It’s also available on YouTube, thanks to Moulton Avery of the National Center for Cold Water Safety.

The Uncalculated Risk isn’t without needs to address in order to get with the times, and it would be exciting to see an updated version today. But it’s fascinating to watch The Uncalculated Risk, nearly 50 years later, and see the relevance of the safety messages still trying to reach paddlers today. Lessons including wearing a PFD, dressing appropriately, and practicing fundamental skills. And, above all else, the call to recognize, “Moving water has an awesome force.”


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