If you want to spend some time out in nature with your family, it’s time to get aboard your boat. During these hot summer months, many families take their boats out on the water, and this includes smaller children who are new to the experience. Boating with kids presents some challenges because, while you want them to have fun, you also want to ensure they stay safe at all times.
We at Bretz RV & Marine have compiled the following guide to help you keep your kids safe and happy when you’re all on a boat. If you’re looking for that perfect boat for you and your family, visit us at our dealership in Billings, Montana!
According to the American Association of Pediatrics, children can be introduced to the water as early as the age of 1, while more formal swimming lessons can begin around the age of 4. The earlier your kids learn to swim, the more comfortable they’ll be in the water and the less you’ll have to worry about them being able to stay afloat. Teach them the difference between waterways like the ocean, lakes and rivers; each body of water needs a different approach.
Make Life Jackets a Habit
If they’re going boating, your kids should wear life jackets. When buying one, look for these three features: head floatation, crotch strap and self-righting capability. The first one keeps the wearer’s head out of the water, the second one stops the life jacket from slipping off and the third one keeps the wearer facing the right direction. Test the jacket out in a public or private swimming pool.
If your child is fussy about keeping the life jacket on, you should also put one on to set a good example. Kids are more likely to do something that everyone else is also doing. Attach a marine whistle to the life jacket and instruct the kids to blow on it repeatedly in an emergency until help arrives.
Clear Safety Rules
Since boating may be a new experience for your child, make sure that they know some of the basic safety rules before they are aboard. They should know that they must never sit on the edge of the boat or lean over to grab anything that falls overboard. They should stay away from the boat’s controls and not disturb the boat operator when they are steering the boat. Kids also shouldn’t run around on the boat or they could hurt themselves or others.
Kids should know where the essential supplies are kept on your boat, like a throwable life ring, the first-aid kit and the fire extinguisher. Give them a tour of the boat so they’re familiar with all parts of it. Keep reviewing safety rules with the kids until they get a firm grasp of them.
Marine Life Education
Any body of water is filled with a variety of marine life that can present a danger to humans. For example, if you’re going to the ocean, make sure they know not to touch jellyfish even if they’re dead on the shore, since they can still sting. Man-o-wars and eels are also dangerous animals that should not be touched.
Tell kids to stay away from coral when in the water, as it can scrape and abrade their skin. And let them know how important it is to not pollute the water or beach with trash to protect the environment. If you’re more of a river dweller, then you probably have some knowledge on local fish species and when they spawn. Teach your kids how to spot areas where fish nests might be so they don’t accidentally trod on them.
We hope you have a great time with your kids on your boating trip! If you want to get the perfect boat for you and your family, come and take a tour of our inventory at Bretz RV & Marine in Billings, Montana.