Keep Kids Safe on Boats... - 07/25/2007

These two future movie stars know that listening to the skipper—the boss of the boat—is as important as wearing their life jackets.

Dive into summer fun by teaching your child about water safety. Summer and water go hand in hand with families all over the country with boating, or taking that relaxing seaside vacation. Children need to understand how to be safe in and around different water situations. Whatever water fun is in your summer plans, teaching a child about water safety begins in the home.

You Da’ Boss

Many families enjoy on lakes or ponds. As with a pool experience, children should be carefully monitored so that they do not climb over the sides of the boat and fall. Explaining boating rules to your child will help them have a safe boating experience.

Dress Rehearsal

A Coast Guard approved life jacket that is appropriate for the child’s size must (it’s the law) be worn on the boat and in the water at all times. Before the boating experience, be sure to have your child try on the life jacket at home to be sure that it fits properly and is in good condition. Have them wear it in your backyard or local pool to get an idea of how it feels to float in the water. Have them practice swimming strokes with the jacket on until they are comfortable with the feeling.

Don’t Forget Their Feet

The water in lakes and ponds can be murky and the bottom could be full of rocks, trash, and broken glass, in addition to plant life. Depth levels in lakes and ponds are not clear cut and both children and parents need to exercise caution. Have your child wear water shoes to protect their feet and be sure that they are extra cautious in their diving.

A no-diving rule is highly recommended. Plant life in a lake can easily wrap around little legs and feet. Be sure to watch and listen for your child carefully, should they find themselves tangled up in a weedy situation.

Keep Them Away from the Prop

Propellers also pose a threat to anyone swimming near the stern of a boat. Before the boating experience, show your child where the propellers are located on the boat and explain how they rotate to make the boat go. Make your child aware that the blades are sharp and when they are going they move very fast. Help your child understand that they should never swim near a propeller and that while swimming the engine should always be turned off. Instruct your child to swim away from the boat if the propeller is accidentally turned on while they are in the water.

Boarding Ladder Practice

Before going boating, have your child practice going down the step ladder into the water. Show them how to get into the water and swim or push off in a direction that is opposite to where the propellers are located.