A boat filled with kids is a happy boat. Their unbridled joy at being out on the water, speeding along with the wind in their hair and the sun on their faces is infectious to all around! The screams of happiness as they leap off the transom or splash around on the beach as their parents enjoy a picnic reverberate in the memory. The look of determined accomplishment as a young fisherman hauls in his first big fish cannot ever be forgotten.
Those things are among the main reasons we go boating, after all. But there are also responsibilities with bringing kids on board. Safety and comfort are two of the most important. Here are five things to remember about kids and boating.
- Life jackets. It’s the law in most places and common sense everywhere: make sure all your passengers are wearing effective, good-fitting personal floatation devices. In NH Children 12 years and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket at all times. Even if your kids are excellent swimmers, life jackets provide protection in the rare event something goes wrong. Get your kids into well-fitted jackets (and make sure they get new ones as they grow) and make sure they wear them at all times. A good way to convince them to do that is to wear one yourself.
- Sun protection. Delicate skin needs protection from the harsh UV rays of the sun, which are amplified out on the water. Whether it’s cloudy or sunny, make sure your kids are wearing sunblock, and replenish it often during the day.
- Hydration. Hot day, bright sun …your kids need to keep hydrated. Make sure you pack plenty of water and other liquids and make sure the kids keep drinking. All day long.
- Warmth. You might not think about it in the middle of a hot summer, but conditions change rapidly on the water, and little bodies lose their inner heat faster than adult ones. Especially if they’re splashing around in cold water, or if a sudden storm blows in. Keep plenty of dry towels, warm blankets and a change of clothes handy.
- Safety first. Make sure your kids, especially the older ones, know the drill for safety. From no running to how to hail the Coast Guard on the radio, every kid should understand the basic rules of safety when onboard a moving boat. The good news is you’ll find most kids are ready, willing and able to participate in making your boat safe and secure…because they want to get back to leaping off the fantail and catching more fish!