All About Safety for Kids
Written by: Captain Ricardo Mendez
When out on the water, be prepared, to expect the unexpected. Perhaps, the most vulnerable people to get injured are our kids. Taking precautions and schooling our kids will keep them safe when on the water with their parents and will complete an enjoyable day on the water.
Here are some tips I believe to be most important to keep our young ones safe on the water:
- Set the Ground Rules: Prior to getting on the boat and then again when on the boat, be sure to let you kids know what is acceptable on the water. The easiest way is to set up ground rules, for instance, there is no running once they board the boat. While on the boat, they should not move to frequently, to minimize the risk of any accident occurring. At all times kids and even adults should keep all body parts inside the vessel, no putting your hand out over the railing. Kids are fascinated to see things, so make sure they do nor lean over the railing. Make them know who is in charge, usually telling them or we are going to back home, should do the trick.
- Make sure they wear a life jacket :The basic rule of thumb is to have at least one USCG approved life jacket per person onboard. All children under the age of thirteen MUST wear an approved life jacket at all times while the boat is in operation. This exception is valid at all times unless the children are in a fully enclosed cabin. Even if the child is above thirteen years of age, they should still wear a life jacket as water conditions can change in a moment’s notice.
- The “right” size life jacket: Having a life jacket on board is not enough; you need to make sure that each life jacket fits properly on the person wearing the pfd. The children’s life jacket sizes change depending on weight, so if it’s a new season, you want to make sure that the pfd is able to support that weight to provide the maximum buoyancy. Infants must wear infant’s life jackets which have straps that run between the legs to ensure that the head stays above the waterline. Remember, to always keep extra life jackets on board, you never know!
- Keeping the boat in order: Kids are extremely adventures when it comes to having fun, they also tend to trip and fall across any lose items. When preparing to go on a trip and board your boat full of items to keep them entertained, please store everything properly. Wake or any rough waters can cause items to shift and children may not be aware, causing them to fall and injure them self.
- All eyes on deck and at the water: Partaking in many recreational activities is a great way to enjoy hands –on day on the water, whether it is wakeboarding or water skiing. While the fun can be un-parallel for the kids, always have a spotter keep an eye out on them. Anything can go wrong at any minute. Make sure even if they are moving around the vessel someone keeps an eye on them
- If the kids go swimming; Encourage the buddy system and throw a type IV PFD off the stern with a line so the a tired swimmer can get to it and pull themselves in. Never run the engine when swimmers are in the water.