During the summer months, families like to take advantage of the warm weather by heading for the beach. Boating can be a great way for families to interact. Nothing is better in the summer than boating in the Delta in Northern California (San Francisco Bay Area). To make the time even more memorable without any mishaps or serious consequences precautionary measures should always be taken, especially when children are on board.
Safety is not always foremost in people’s minds because people never think anything bad will ever happen to them, but it should be the most important factor to consider when boating with children. Below are some water safety tips to remember to keep children safe.
First and foremost, life jackets should be worn at all times even when either in the water or just sitting on the boat. Life jackets also need to fit properly. They should fit snugly against a child’s body. An adult size life jacket for a child is not the same and will not protect the child in the same manner as it would an adult, so children really need a life jacket that will fit their small frame. To determine if a life jacket fits have your child do the “touchdown” test. They should be able to lift their arms straight up into the air without the life jacket rising up and touching their chin or ears. If it does, the jacket is either too big or the straps are too loose. it is important to note: swim toys such as balls or any air-filled devices should not be mistaken as a flotation device.
Next, if you allow your child to go into the water the buddy system should be used. A child should never be allowed to swim alone. They should always swim with someone else, preferably an adult. An adult should be present at all times supervising the child with no distractions. Children should also not be allowed to dive into open water unless you know the depth of the water and if the area below the surface is clear from debris such as rocks and seaweed.
A child should also know when they are tired. Currents and undertones of open water are always uncertain and can carry a child away from the boat before they realize it, so it is important that children know when they have had enough and are ready to return and get back into the boat. Remember: it only takes a minute or two for a child to get into serious trouble when in the water.
A few other things to consider when boating with children: teens should only be allowed to operate the vessel under adult supervision. Babies should not be on boats until they are the appropriate weight to wear a flotation device. Hands and feet should be kept in the boat at all times. Kids can also stay cold for quite some time after they have come out of the water, so a dry towel or blanket should always be on hand to keep them warm. If you remember these tips, kids can have a lot of fun boating with their families while staying safe.