Boating with Kids

Tips for Safety & Fun

May 2022 Feature ShoreMaster

Boating is a great way to spend time with your kids. It gives you the opportunity to spend time together away from screens, homework, and bedtime that’s relaxing. You can nurture a passion for sports, nature, exercise, and other waterfront activities at a young age that will stay with them for a lifetime.

Of course, you have to be safe when you’re on the water to keep those memories fun. Safety is as much about what you do on the shore before the boating season starts as it is about what you do once you board your boat. Follow these tips to keep the water a fun place that’s memorable for all the right reasons.

Be Prepared

You’ll need more gear onboard for kids than you will for adults for both safety and fun. Everyone on board, regardless of age, should have a good life jacket: for kids, that means one that’s brightly colored, comfortable, keeps their head above water, and doesn’t let them slip out. Bring sunscreen and extra clothes. Keep a variety of seasickness remedies on the boat in case someone gets an upset tummy. Younger kids might need toys on the boat to keep their attention before they’re old enough to appreciate the water itself, and older kids will appreciate remote-control boats or floating toys.

Make and Explain the Rules

Adults and children alike need to be more careful in the open water than they do at home, and these rules should be explained before you set sail. Stress the importance of never getting between the boat and the dock, never swimming underneath a boat or steps, and not running on the dock. Take them around to dangerous areas to show them what the risks are. Remind them to stay seated when the boat is moving, like they would on a bus or in the car.

Safety First

Brush up on your safety skills as well and instill some in your children. Ensure the safety rules we talked about before are firm and in place. If your kids are old enough, teach them how to swim in open water and water survival skills like floating or treading water, breathing with forwarding movement, turning, and safely entering and exiting the water. They also need to wear well-fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Take a CPR and basic water rescue course to be prepared in an emergency as well.

Maintain Your Docks and Lifts

If your boat dock or lift is malfunctioning, that will put a damper on your summer for sure. A poorly maintained waterfront is also unsafe for kids. A dock with uneven footing, weak points, sharp edges, or other hazards can make it dangerous to walk. Frayed cables could snap and hurt someone on the boat or dock. A lift that isn’t capable of holding up your boat could collapse. A well-maintained dock and lift that’s in good working order with functional parts are the foundation of a great summer and will require the most attention. 

When setting up for the season, inspect your dock and lift for signs of wear, tear, or malfunction. If you need maintenance or replacement parts, make sure to get maintenance scheduled or the parts ordered as soon as you can. This is going to be another busy boating season, and a lot of suppliers and dealers are dealing with backorders and shortages—don’t let procrastination and delays keep you from making memories together as a family this summer.

For more information:
ShoreMaster, LLC
1025 International Drive
Fergus Falls, MN 56537

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