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Video:Children and Boating Safety

with Kathy Moore

Spending time out on the water can be a fun and exciting family activity as long as it's done safely. Learn how to make boating a safe activity for the whole family.See Transcript

Transcript:Children and Boating Safety

Hi, I am Kathy Moore for About.com Parenting. Spending time out on the water can be a fun and exciting family activity as long as it is done safely. This program is about boating safely with young children.

Start With a Life Jacket

We are lucky enough to live near a lake and our kids love to get out and ride around on the water. Whether you are fishing, waterskiing or just enjoying the ride, boating safety starts with wearing a life jacket, also called a floatation device. According to the US Coast Guard, 85% of people who drowned in boating accidents were not wearing floatation devices. This is such a simple step every boater can take.

Choosing a Lifejacket

When choosing a life jacket for yourself or your children make sure that it is US Coast Guard approved and that it is sized correctly for the person who will be wearing it. Most children's life jackets are sized based on the weight of the child. I prefer the kids devices that have a zipper in front as well as snap closures for straps around the abdomen and crotch. Another feature on some children's life jackets is the grab strap which makes it easier to rescue a child who falls overboard.

Practice at Home

To get our kids used to wearing life jackets, we conduct dry-land training at home by suiting them up in their life jackets and pretending to be on the boat. This practice adds a level of comfort and familiarity to wearing the life jacket. Of course whenever we are out on the water my husband and I wear our life jackets too. I am a good swimmer and have worked as a professional lifeguard but all that practice and training will not help a bit if I am injured in an accident and tossed overboard.

Stay Aboard During Accidents

If someone in your boating party is thrown overboard, do not immediately jump in to try to save them. Anyone struggling in the water may pull you down in an attempt to save themselves. Your best option is to attempt a rescue from within your boat. You should have a throwable floatation cushion at hand as well as safety buoys and floating rope.

Create Boating Safety Rules

If you are boating with children, be sure to instruct them where to sit on the boat and help them get comfortable before leaving the dock. Remind them to stay with the boat in the event of capsize and invite them to help you watch for other boaters so you can keep a safe distance.

Let Others Know You Are Boating

Whenever you are heading out on the water it is a good idea to let someone on shore know where you are going, too. We bring a portable radio with a NOAA weather radio feature so we can stay abreast of changing weather conditions.

Boating is such an enjoyable pastime when it is done safely, so check into boating safety classes offered in your area so you can build on these family boating safety basics.

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