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Keep kids safe on boats

Have fun and stay safe with your kids. Use these boat safety tips for parents and children.

Boating with your family and young children can be a positive experience if the proper safety precautions are taken ahead of time and during your trip. Here are some tips on what to do before and while boating to help keep your children as safe as possible.

Before embarking on your trip

Purchase a good life jacket.

Take your child to get fitted for a life jacket. Weight determines the size of the life jacket for children. Children 13 years or younger are required to wear a U.S.Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times while on a boat. Life jackets for children are typically designed for extra safety, by including a crotch strap that prevents the life jacket from riding up, a handle on the life jacket used to easily lift the child out of the water and head support that is padded to keep the child’s head above the water.

Childproof your boat.

Make sure all loose and sharp items that can be tripped over or a child can get caught up in are stored out of the way, but still easily accessible to you when you need them.

Take a family boat safety course.

To stress the importance of safety to your children, you can enroll in a safety course and include your older children. Many states require that older children take a boat safety course and carry the certification with them on the boat.

Learn CPR.

CPR saves lives. It is important to take the extra precaution of learning CPR, as you never know when it will be needed. Knowing CPR can also give you peace of mind.

Enroll in swim lessons.

Sign your children up for swim lessons, so they can get used to the water and learn how to tread water and float.

Educate on the different types of water.

Teach kids that swimming in the ocean or lake is very different than swimming in a pool due to currents, undertows, changing weather, and rocky surfaces. Instruct kids not to dive because you never know how shallow the water really is or the type of surface below the water.

During your time on the water

Establish and enforce rules.

Set clear rules while children are on the boat, such as remaining seated, keeping hands and feet on the boat at all times, and no running on the boat.

Items to be sure to have on board:

  • Water and other hydrating liquids
  • Snacks
  • Plastic bags for wet clothes
  • Hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses
  • Towels, blankets, and jackets
  • Ponchos

Keep kids entertained.

The more kids are involved in the trip the less likely they will be bored and get into trouble. Show them how to read a map and point out different points of interest on the map as well as ones you can see from your boat. Allow them to sit at the helm with the captain. Bring water toys and bathtub books to keep them occupied.

Docking the boat.

Docking a boat can be tricky with kids. Make sure one person is watching the kids as another person is docking the boat. It is often necessary for two people to dock a boat, so you may want to safely secure kids in the cabin while docking.

We hope these tips help guide you in keeping your children safe on a boat, so you can have an enjoyable experience out on the water. For further protection on the water, Markel Specialty boat insurance offers specialized boat insurance that protects you if you become legally liable for someone else’s injuries or property damage due to a boating accident. In addition, Markel boat insurance also offers protection to help cover the cost to repair or replace your boat in the event of an accident, fire, theft, or vandalism.