Before you take your boat out on the lake or river this season, follow these tips to keep your family safe out on the water:
- Always Wear a Life Jacket: Always have your children wear a life jacket that is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Make sure the life jacket is snug. You can tell if the life jacket is tight enough by having the child raise both arms straight up. If the jacket hits the child’s chin or ears it may be too big or the straps may be too loose.
- Infant Appropriate Life Jackets: According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of Boating Safety, babies should not travel on a boat. This includes row boats, kayaks, motorboats and sailboats. Car seats are not a good option and will sink if the boat capsizes.
- Keep Little Kids Warm: Kids are at high risk for hypothermia. Take a few extra precautions to keep your baby warm. Bring extra blankets and towels while boating.
- Don’t Rely on Swimming Aids: Water wings or noodles are fun toys for kids, but they should never be used in place of a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device.
- Childproof Your Boat and Develop Some Basic Rules: Explain basic boat rules to your kids such as keeping hands and feet inside the boat at all times.
- Learn From the Pros: Enroll kids in a boating safety course. Get a vessel safety check every year for free from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons. Go to www.uscboating.org for more information.
- Use Your Best Judgment:
- Never drink while boating: A lot of the boating accidents that occur each year involve alcohol. To stay safe, never drink alcohol while boating whether you are the driver or a passenger.
- Make sure to have a carbon monoxide alarm on any motorboat to alert your family of any buildup of toxic fumes from the engine.
- Only let your teen operate a boat in a supervised setting. Adhere to all laws in your area.
- Actively Supervise Kids In and Around Open Water: Enroll your child in swimming lessons when you feel he or she is ready. Make sure your child knows the difference between open water and a pool and make sure they know how to tread water, float and stay by the shore before you allow them to swim in open water.
If you or a family member have been seriously injured in a boating accident, contact us immediately. To learn more boating safety tips and other parental safety tips, visit www.safekidsorg.com