Safety is paramount when spending time on the water and in particular, aboard a boat. I have run as a 200 ton captain, so take it from me. I have seen a lot when it comes to putting people’s lives at risk. As a father of two children, I know kids are reluctant to remain seated but instead prefer to move about instead. Here are 7 boating safety tips you need to know before heading out the water.
Top 7 Boating Safety Tips
Understanding the dangers of boating with children ahead of time will lessen the likelihood of an incident. Yes, every year, people are killed on boats, including children. While only some situations are avoidable, becoming educated on boating safety tips is essential. Here are the top 7 boating safety tips to keep in mind while on the water.
Wear A Life Jacket
Life jackets save lives, no doubt about it. Expecting a child to remain afloat is far more challenging than even the most experienced adult swimmer.
Before stepping on a boat I have my children put on a life jacket. Yes, accidents do happen dockside too. Waves and wind shift boats, and wet decks cause slips and falls. Any of these puts children at risk of ending up in the water, and even more scary is being pinned between the boat and dock.
While accidents are uncommon, they do occur. Rather than scrambling at the last moment if the opportunity presents itself, place life jackets on your children. Lastly, ensure that the life jacket is properly sized for the child.
Keep Kids Clear Of The Operator
Children are fascinated by the concept of driving watercraft. Believe me, I know. I had the same passion as a child, so I became a captain.
Undoubtedly, boats are steered off course, or throttles are maxed out unexpectedly while holding children on laps.
Additionally, kids require attention. That said, as the operator, you become distracted from answering questions or providing guidance. Distracted driving puts you and your passengers at risk.
Put bluntly, keep the kids away from the helm to maximize safety while driving a boat.
Never Let The Boat Idle Unattended
Personally, I have had a close call with a boat left with the engines running idle, and I never want to experience it again.
Thankfully my situation did not involve children. To further explain, the boat was drifting at sea with the engines running. Swimmers were perched on the swim deck. Due to the rolling seas, a backpack fell on the throttles. As a result, the boat shifted into full reverse with twin engines. Had swimmers been in the water, the situation would have resulted in a fatality.
Similarly, curious children are at risk of moving the throttles into the forward or reverse position. Always turn off the engine when leaving the helm.
Protect Kids Skin
Skin cancer cases among active boaters is prevalent. To reduce your kid’s likelihood of developing cancer as children grow into adulthood, ensure they are always well coated in sunblock.
With that being said, a one time application is not always enough. When children enter the water, it is essential to reapply to prevent painful sunburns and skin damage.
Lastly, apply only a high SPF rated sunblock to maximize protection. This should be in combination with a high level of water resistance.
Know Where Kids Are At All Times
Kids are curious, which is how they learn. I know my kids like to move about to catch a glimpse of everything to see while on the water.
I highly recommend having your children remain seated with butts in seats. Leaning over railings or kneeling results in accidental overboard situations or being tossed within the boat and injured.
Lastly, have another adult help in the process of keeping the kids remaining seated. The operator should remain focused on driving.
Keep Kids Hydrated
Hydration is essential for all age levels, but children are more susceptible because of the inability to decipher the symptoms.
With that being said, planning for a day on the water must include a cooler full of hydrating drinks.
Leave the sugar filled juice boxes back home. Ice down ample water for both the children and adults.
Keep an eye for symptoms of dehydration in children. The symptoms include reduced activity tolerance, sunken eyes, drowsiness, and more. When signs are present, have the child sit in the shade while providing them with cold water.
Keep Live Saving Equipment Onboard
Life saving equipment extends beyond life jackets. Other essential life saving gear includes a VHF radio, throwable cushion, flares, a first aid kit, and more.
Unfortunately, unexpected breakdowns do occur. With that being said, being equipped with a VHF radio will give you the upper hand in receiving assistance in a more timely fashion. Conversely, without the radio, you are likely to bob about until spotted.
Throwable cushions are not only required by law but also an essential rescue resource. Never stow the throwable device or use it as a seat pad. The throwable must always remain visible to toss to a struggling swimmer or child or adult who has gone overboard.
While a first aid kid isn’t likely to save a child’s life, they are highly beneficial. Cuts and scrapes occur both on the boat and while in the water. Applying a bandage and topical antibiotic will ease worry and help reduce the likelihood of infection.
Follow These 7 Boating Safety Tips
The next time you’re out on the water, keep these seven boating safety tips in your mind. Again, the likelihood of an accident is rare, but unfortunately, they do occur. As a result of the significant amount of time I spent on the water, I have seen incidents and accidents, many of which were avoidable. Keep safe while having fun with your children while boating.