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Boat Safety: How to Keep Your Kids Safe While Boating

In 2017, emergency departments in the US attended to 8,700 children aged 19 and younger due to a drowning event. A quarter of these kids also had to stay in the hospital for further treatment.

Most drowning incidents involving minors occur in bathtubs and swimming pools. However, they are also a common result of recreational boating activities. In 2018 alone, 4,145 recreational boating incidents occurred in US waters.

Proper boat safety is key to preventing many of these incidents.

Besides, boating is among the most fun water activities to do with your family. More than being enjoyable, sailing has also shown to have mental health benefits.

Are you ready to make your family boating trip safe, memorable, and exciting? Then be sure to keep these tips on boating safety for kids.

Have Your Little Ones Take Swim Lessons

Some studies suggest that kids learn basic swimming skills the fastest when they’re 4 to 6 years old. These skills include floating, proper breathing, and crawl stroke.

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons as early as the age of one. They believe that acquiring swimming skills at this age may help prevent drowning.

Regardless of your kids’ age though, it’s not too late to have them enroll in swim lessons. Aside from the basics, the program should also teach them water competency. This way, they’ll know what to do in case they unexpectedly find themselves in water.

Talk to your kids’ pediatrician first about swim classes before you take your kids out on a boat trip. Ask the doctor if your kids are developmentally ready for such classes. They may even recommend schools that have experienced swim instructors for kids.

Learn CPR

Only half of Americans say they know how to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). The thing is, CPR can raise the survival chance of a victim who goes into cardiac arrest by two to three times.

That should be enough reason for you to learn both traditional and hands-only CPR. The traditional way involves compression and mouth-to-mouth breaths. Experts say that this may be more beneficial to drowning victims.

Parents aren’t the only ones who should master this life-saving technique. Even if your kids are still in elementary or high school, you should have them train for CPR. Previous research has found that more than 8 in 10 kids aged could perform it properly.

Complete a Family Boat Safety Course

Before sailing away on that yacht, sign up your family for boating classes. Many of these programs focus on boating basics, such as terms and safe vessel operation. However, many of them also teach boat safety for kids and adults.

Invest in a Quality Life Jacket

Did you know life jackets have saved more than 80% of victims of boating-related incidents?

That’s how effective and important life jackets are in boating activities.

This is why each person on the boat should have one of these floatation devices. Regardless of how skilled a swimmer you guys are, each one of you should have access to these jackets.  

Keep in mind, however, that life jackets also come with proper sizing. If the device is too small, it won’t do much to help the body stay afloat. If it’s too big, the jacket may end up wrapping around the face and causing more damage than good.

Note that the safest life jackets for toddlers, infants, and adults are those approved by the USGC. That’s why one of the first things to look for in a life jacket is the United States Coast Guard label. The best (and safest) recreational PFDs have undergone testing from USCG Recognized Laboratories.

Set Rules and Be Strict About Them

While you want your family boat trip to be fun, you should still enforce strict safety rules. No one should be running on the boat or horse playing near the gunwale or the edge of the boat. Hands and feet should always be inside the boat too.

Equip the Boat With Child-Friendly and Safety Devices

PDFs can save lives, but it’s best to prevent people from falling into the water in the first place. This is why you should choose a boat that has built-in child-proofing mechanisms. These include child-proof gates, locks, and straps on doors and windows.

You should also place some netting along the boat’s railings and at the bottom of the stair steps. These will help prevent infants and toddlers from climbing over them.

Keep Your Toolbox and First Aid Kit Well-Stocked

Your toolbox should have several flashlights, extra batteries, and mirrors. Duct tapes could also be a life-saver in case your boat springs a small leak. Make sure you also have a few buckets on board to help bail out water that enters the vessel.

There should also be extra marine ropes on the boat to help secure loose items on rocky waters. These ropes should be long enough to reach and pull in someone who falls overboard.

Stock up on antiseptics, waterproof bandages, and waterproof medical adhesives. Gauze sponges, cloth bandages (in case of sprains and strains), and splint should also be in the kit. Don’t forget sunscreens and medications for colds and motion-sickness.

Enjoy Your Family Water Getaway With These Boating Safety Tips

There you have it, your ultimate guide on boat safety tips for both kids and adults. All these can help prevent accidents and prepare your family to respond to them if they do occur.

Remember: you’ll be in open water, which means that the nearest boat could be miles and miles away. While you can call for help, your rescuers will still need time to get to your location. It’s always better to keep safe to avoid having to be rescued in the first place.

Ready to heed the call of the water while staying safe and having fun? Then be sure to check out our guides on choosing and buying boating gear and accessories!


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