Boating is a wonderful way to spend time with family and friends. Whether tubing, water skiing, sailing, or just lounging around on the water, there is no better place to connect with loved ones than outdoors. Nevertheless, it is very important to keep everyone's safety in mind. Did you know that Pennsylvania law states anyone 13 years and younger must wear a PFD (personal flotation device) at all times while on a vessel? Here are some other tips to consider while boating with kids:
Wear the right life jacket – Make sure kids not only wear a life jacket that is U.S. Coast Guard approved, but that it also fits them correctly. While raising both arms straight up, the life jacket should not reach the child’s chin or ears. A life jacket should be snug and fit securely. For more information on choosing the right life jacket, click here.
Keep warm – Children and babies are at a higher risk for hypothermia. It may not feel cold to you but a child may not be able to handle the temperature as well. Make sure you properly dress them, and wrap them with blankets or towels if they are shivering.
Set safety rules – Set some rules to keep kids safe on the boat. No running, no roughhousing, and no jumping are some good rules to follow. Make sure they are aware of the boundaries on the boat and where they are allowed to go while on-board.
Be prepared – No matter how careful you are, sometimes things go wrong. Ensure that you can handle a situation should one arise. Learn CPR, install a carbon monoxide alarm to alert you of toxic fumes, and make everyone aware of the location of the fire extinguisher.
Teach children the difference between swimming in a pool as opposed to open water – Unlike a pool, open water has uneven surfaces, currents, and an unknown bottom. You never know what is under the surface, so kids should not dive into open water or swim too far away from the boat.
Supervise children – Each child is different and has unique capabilities. Enroll your child in swimming lessons so they learn how to tread water, float, and swim. Keep an eye on them when they are in the water and never allow a teen to operate a vessel without supervision.