Rest assured that plenty of families bring their kids boating and are bringing children as young as toddlers and babies along for the fun without any issue. There is a bit more planning ahead that needs done, but you can make your boating life a family experience without feeling uneasy about the decision.
Along with getting extra lifejackets and making one part of the boat more secured for the kids, here is a look at the four safety tips you’ll need to start bringing the kids on board for a boating experience as a family.
Securing baby and the boat first
The first thing you’ll want to plan for is the kids’ lifejackets. You can’t go without these even if you plan to hold the kids during the day, because the U.S. Coast Guard recommends lifejackets are worn by everyone when the boat is underway.
Make sure everyone, even the kids and infants, have their personal flotation device, and that they fit properly. The infant lifejackets actually come with a head cushion for extra protection in the event that children are in the water.
Even if you plan to hold the kids during a day cruising the St. Johns River, make sure you’ve secured an area on the boat where the kids can be secured. Whether an emergency occurs or you just want to drop anchor, it’s important that small children can be somewhere secure so that all adults onboard have the option to perform boating tasks rather than holding the children.
Accommodating for what kids need on a regular day
Just like a day in the park or hanging out in the backyard on a Saturday, the kids need to have a place to grab some shade. Too much time in the sun is dangerous for the skin and can dehydrate and drain the kids of energy. Make sure to have umbrellas and sunscreen for the kids to stay cool on a hot Florida day.
Your kids are also going to near their regularly scheduled naptime and meals. Make sure you’ve planned for a place to grab a nap, whether it’s by packing a pack-n-play or a secured bedroom in the boat. Make sure you’ve packed snacks, formula, water, and juice for the kids to stay hydrated and nourished during many hours in the sun.
Have extra help onboard
Make sure you’ve planned for enough adults to help out with the kids during boating. It’s safest to keep a baby in your arms while the boat is in motion, which means that the more hands on deck, the better. Having extra help on board also means that more eyes can be watching for the kids safety, holding the babies, and helping in case of an emergency.
Having backup to help with the kids while everyone helps driving, navigating, anchoring, and enjoying time in the water will put your mind at ease for everyone’s safety. You may simply need some time to relax while the little ones have plenty of people to keep them safe.
Plan for all of your supplies
Lastly, make sure you’ve planned for all of the supplies you’ll need for a safe day on the water. Not only will you need plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, people, and lifejackets, but you’ll need to account for things like waterproof diapers, pacifiers, cash for refueling or to grab lunch, towels to dry off, and extra clothes. You’ll also want to pack the fun essentials, such as waterproof toys and a camera to make for a fun and safe day.
Don’t forget to also discuss with your kids the safety measures of being in the water, including the differences between open water and a pool, how to be safe from river currents or ocean undertow, to be prepared for uneven surfaces, and to stay in designated swimming areas. Then, be sure to have everyone on board certified for CPR and to avoid excessive alcohol consumption since it is the top reason for boating accidents on the water.
These are the best ways to keep a baby and kids safe during boating season this year!