Boating is a fun activity for kids, and they enjoy a lot while boating. But, they don’t know how to take care of themselves. As parents, you should teach them about boating safety. So, here are some safety tips for boating with kids.
- Teach them swimming
- Childproof the boat
- Tell them to wear a life jacket
- Prevent sunburns
- Tell them where the safety equipment is kept in the boat
- Teach them how to use safety equipment
- Give them some tasks to stay calm in the boat
- Bring toys and food
- Tell them where to swim
- Bring extra clothes
- Keep an eye on them while the boat is moving
- Give them appropriate shoes
These are essential safety tips for kids. It is a parent’s responsibility to teach their kids boating safety and how to be safe on the boat.
1. Teach them swimming
swimming you should be near them and teach the basics first. Some of the basic moves are listed below.
- Floating in the water
- Your body movement should be well co-ordinated
By teaching basics first, they will learn how to float on the water without drowning in the water. Then they will learn how to balance their body in the water.
After teaching them the basics, then go for actual swimming and teach them little advanced skills. By doing all these things first, it will eliminate all the fears related to water in their minds.
It will help your child to think wisely because, in the water, you generally be cautious and watch the surroundings. Like, how others are moving in the water? And based on the others you make the move accordingly without hitting them.
In the future, if they fell overboard, they will watch the surroundings, and then they will make their move accordingly. Don’t teach swimming directly in the seas or lakes first teach them in swimming pools.
Teach kids that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool. They need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow, and changing weather, then only they will get more confidence.
Check my article on Essential things to teach kids before boating (don’t worry, it will open in new tab). In this article, I mentioned everything you need to teach the kids before teaching them boating.
2. Childproof the boat
Childproofing the boat is the first thing you need to do as a parent. If you are thinking to take the kids for boating, then childproof the boat. Keep all sharp items away from them (items that can fall over or a child can get caught up).
Close all the doors (if any)
Close all the open doors in the boat (if any). So, they won’t fall off the boat. It is nice to keep a small barrier or rilling with a net around the deck of the boat or at least on both sides of the boat. So, they can hold the net while the boat is moving in the water.
Cover the sharp edges (if any)
Then cover all the sharp edges (if any) by using cardboard pieces or with thick covers. Use tape and attach the cardboard piece or thick cover over the sharp edges. So, if they hit the sharp edges without seeing them, nothing will happen to them.
Cover the floor with carpet
There is a high chance of boat floor becoming wet while boating. If your boat floor is wet, then you might slip easily on the boat. Kids can slip easily on wet floors. To prevent that, cover the entire floor with a carpet. So, kids won’t slip, and you also won’t slip as well.
3. Tell them to wear a life jacket
A life jacket is essential for kids while boating. According to the United States Coast Guard, kids under 12 should wear a life jacket, even if they know swimming, and it should fit properly. If the kid is playing any sport or generally sitting, they need to wear a life jacket.
Problems of not wearing a proper size life jacket
Simply wearing a life jacket isn’t enough that should fit them as well. The life jacket shouldn’t be too big or small, it should fit properly. If you wear a big sized life jacket and suppose if you fell in the water, then due to the force at which you fell in the water, a life jacket may come out.
Choosing a life jacket
While buying a life jacket make sure it has a small whistle on it. If anyone falls overboard, and no one knows that someone has fallen overboard, then you can use the whistle to signal others. So, they will come to know your exact location quickly. Nowadays some of them are having a small light on it as well, which is helpful while boating at night.
Most of the kids will be in different body shapes, and it is hard to tell the correct life jacket based on the chest size. The weight of the kid is important because you need to pick a life jacket based on the weight, then you can tell whether the life jacket is capable of lifting the body or not.
For adults, you can choose the life jacket based on chest size. For kids, it is better to choose based on the weights. In the below table, I mentioned which type of life jacket to wear based on age (years and weight may vary a little bit).
(0 – 3 years)
|8 – 30 lbs.||Type 2||Yes|
3 – 6 years
|30 – 50 lbs.||Type 2 or|
6 – 12
|50 – 90 lbs.||Type 3||Yes|
|12 years +||90 lbs +||Type 3||Yes|
Most children and youths should use a Type III USCG-approved model life jacket. Whereas, infants should use a Type II USCG-approved model life jacket.
If you are choosing a life jacket for infants, then make sure that it has padded head support to help keep the child’s head above water, grab handles to assist in retrieving the child out of the water, and crotch strap to help keep the PFD from riding up.
- Type 1 is for adults, and it is used for offshore purposes.
- Type 2 is for infants, and it is used in inland day cruising, fishing, and sailing.
- Type 3 is for a child, and it is used in various sports activities and the most comfortable for continuous wear and freedom of movement
4. Prevent sunburns
Sunburn is another worst thing, and that can happen to you and your child as well if you didn’t apply the sunscreen lotion. Melanin is a chemical in the skin that protects the skin from sun damage by reflecting and absorbing UV rays. Generally, sunscreen is essential for the one who has less melanin in the skin.
People with dark skins have a high level of melanin in their skin, and people with light skins have a low level of melanin in their skin. For both the people, they need to apply sunscreen. That’s why light skin people will get sunburn quickly than dark skin people.
Choosing the sunscreen
Regardless of age, always choose a sunscreen that’s broad-spectrum, meaning it blocks both UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF 30 at minimum. UVA rays prematurely age skin, while UVB rays cause sunburns. SPF refers to how much UVB light sunscreen can filter out.
Many dermatologists prefer physical (a.k.a. mineral) sunscreens made of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which deflect sun rays, whereas a chemical sunscreen absorbs them.
Water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher will be the safest choice for your kids. This ensures your sunscreen protects against both harmful UVA and UVB rays.
While choosing the sunscreen lotion, make sure that it has these features listed below.
- SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or higher.
- Protects against both UVA and UVB rays (a Broad-spectrum sunscreen).
- Water-resistant (protects kids while in the water for 40–80 minutes).
The above-mentioned things are essential if you are using sunscreen between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (when the sun’s rays are strongest). In the below table, I mentioned what SPF to use for different ages.
|Age (in years)||SPF|
|0 – 5 years||50|
|6 – 10||30 – 50|
|11 – 17||30 or 30 +|
In the below table, I mentioned the protection and how long it will last for each SPF range. The values will vary depending on the usage. Generally, you can calculate how long it will last by SPF value times 10, then you will get the time.
|SPF||How long it|
will last (in hrs.)
|How much UV rays|
it will prevent
|15||3 hrs.||93 %||7 %|
|30||6 hrs.||97 %||3 %|
|50||8 hrs.||98 %||2 %|
|100||16 hrs.||99 %||1 %|
There is no big difference between the 30, 50, and 100 SPF sunscreens. This means the protection doesn’t double if you use 100 SPF sunscreen. Many people will suggest using at least 30 SPF sunscreen.
So, if you are using a sunscreen with SPF 30, then shifting to SPF 50 won’t double the protection. It only increases by 1%. So, don’t unnecessarily use a sunscreen with high SPF for you and your kids as well. Sometimes, it might damage the skin (but there is no official proof for this).
Check this utexas website for more info click here (don’t worry, it will open in new tab).
Where to apply them
Sunscreens come in different forms such as sticks, sprays & lotions. Select one that’ll be easy for you to apply to your child. Sunscreen expires within two years or less. Have a look at the manufacture & expiry date before purchasing and using a sunscreen.
Make sure to reapply sunscreen frequently, at least every two hours, and more often if children are dipping in and out of the ocean or lake or sea. Apply it on the face completely. Don’t forget about ears, hands, feet, shoulders, and behind the neck. Protect lips with an SPF 30 lip balm.
Check how long it is water-resistant, sunscreen will come with 40 min to 80 min water resistant time. Usually, up to 80 minutes, and then you have to reapply. Apply sunscreen on your kids at least 20 to 30 minutes before they go outdoors, whether it’s a cloudy or a sunny day.
After applying sunscreen don’t forget to keep it in the cold place. Don’t keep in the sunlight, keeping sunscreen in the heat and exposing it to light will cause it to break down faster
5. Tell them where the safety equipment is kept in the boat
This step is essential for every person in the boat. The boat operator should tell where all the safety equipment is kept in the boat. If they didn’t tell, ask them. Kids also need to know where all the safety equipment is kept in the boat.
Sometimes parents might be in a hurry or busy driving the boat, and they might not be able to take the safety equipment by themselves. At that time, kids will help if they know where all the equipment is kept in the boat. Telling them is essential for the parents.
If you fall out of the boat, then you can ask your kids to through a life jacket near you. And keep all the safety equipment in a reachable distance, and don’t keep any of them in faraway places in the boat, where you can’t take them quickly.
6. Teach them how to use safety equipment
Not only telling your kids where all the safety equipment is kept in the boat, but you also need to teach how to use them too. Then only they can save others if someone falls overboard. No need to teach them about every safety equipment in the boat, teach them the basics.
Teach your kids about some basic safety equipment (like life jackets throwable flotation devices, horns, flares, fire extinguisher). Knowing these things is sufficient. Don’t forget to tell them why do we need to use these things.
- Teach them how to wear a life jacket on board and in water as well. So, if they fall in the water, then you can throw a life jacket near them, and the kid will wear it in the water itself, and you can pull them by throwing a rope.
- Teach them how to use throwable flotation devices and when to use them. If you teach your child this, then they will help others (who fell overboard) by throwing them a throwable flotation device.
- Teach them how to use horns and flares. These are sound and visual signaling devices. Teach them in which direction you need to use the flares and horns, and when to use them (like if they see some people then only use them).
So, they will get to know about the safety equipment, and they will know what all are needed and how to use them in the right situations.
Check my article on Safety equipment for a boat: 31 things you need (don’t worry, it will open in new tab). In this article, I mentioned about every safety equipment needed for a boat, both in closed waters (lakes or ponds) and open waters (seas or oceans).
7. Give them some tasks to stay calm in the boat
Generally, kids won’t stay quiet in the boat they will be jumping, moving inside the boat, and touching the steering wheel, etc. Sometimes, these actions will become dangerous and might cause some problems for you as well.
To prevent that, you need to give some tasks for them to do. That can be a small work or an indoor game, it is our responsibility to keep the kids calm while boating. So, give them small tasks related to the boat (like assisting or driving or navigating).
Suppose, if you tell then to assist you, then tell them to watch for any obstacles in the surroundings while the boat is moving or checking the route like that. So, they will focus on that work. But in between, you need to check whether they are doing properly or not.
Suppose, if you tell them to navigate, then tell them to watch whether the heading direction is correct or not in between you can teach them how to use the equipment too. So now they will concentrate on the given work, and won’t create any problems in the boat.
Similarly, like that, you can give many works that will deviate them. I just gave the examples, there are so many things you can do. There may be no better distraction than toys to keep little ones entertained. So, keep some toys in the boat it will excite your young ones to go on the boat.
8. Bring toys and food
Food is essential if you are going for boating with kids. The sun + being out on the water all day makes for extreme hunger and thirst. Be sure to bring lots of snacks, packed lunches, and water for everyone on board.
The best food kids while boating will be ice cream and any cold items, which keeps it cold and slowly melts during the day, in addition to bringing extra drinks and a variety of food. Keep the fruits that contain more water like watermelon.
Fruits and vegetables are an all-natural source of nutrition that is quick and easy to prepare. Pack a cooler with ice to keep fruits and veggies cold all day. Before you leave home, pre-cut bell peppers, and broccoli into bite-sized pieces, and start the ride.
Take popcorn or trail mix (Trail mix is a type of snack mix, typically a combination of granola, dried fruit, nuts, and sometimes chocolate). These are the most exciting snacks for kids while boating.
And don’t forget to bring some toys as well. There may be no better distraction than toys to keep little ones entertained. So, keep some toys in the boat, it will excite your young ones to go on the boat.
9. Tell them where to swim
Swimming will be a very fun sport while boating. You need to tell the kids which waters are good for swimming. Remember that swimming aids such as water wings or inflatable arm rings are fun toys for kids, but they should never be used in place of a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or PFD.
Teach them the difference between swimming in normal water and oceans or lakes is different. They need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow, and changing weather. Make sure kids swim only in areas that are designated for swimming.
Tell them not to dive deep into oceans, lakes, or rivers, because you never know how deep the water is or what might be hidden under the surface. And don’t swim in bad water or dirty water because it may cause some problems for kids.
Always teach them to wear a life jacket of appropriate type while swimming in lakes or seas. Make sure to reapply sunscreen frequently, at least every two hours, and more often if children are dipping in and out of the pool, ocean, and lake.
10. Bring extra clothes
After swimming for a long time, the clothes will become wet and you need to change their clothes. Pack warmer clothes as well as swimming gear and towels. Kids can get cold easily out on the water, so you want to be ready if a chill breeze picks up.
You’ll also probably want to pack some foul weather and cold weather clothes. As soon as the sun goes below the horizon, it can get a little chilly. Be ready with warm clothes, blankets, and hot chocolate to cozy up and enjoy the evening.
Infants and young kids are at a higher risk for hypothermia (It is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C)).
Hypothermia occurs as your body temperature falls below 95 F (35 C). So, if you are taking a baby on a boat, just take a few extra precautions to keep your baby warm. If your children seem cold or are shivering, wrap them tightly in a dry blanket or towel.
Covering up is also a very good idea. You can find clothing with fabric that has SPF protection. This will also allow you to spend more time outdoors without having to reapply sunscreen. Hats that cover your scalp, face, ears, and neck, are probably good.
11. Keep an eye on them while the boat is moving
This is an essential thing you need to do while boating with children. Generally, kids won’t stay quietly in the boat they will be jumping, moving inside the boat, and touching the steering wheel, etc. So, you need to actively supervise their actions regularly.
Sometimes, these actions will become dangerous and might cause some problems for you as well. So, you need to check them regularly, like, what they are doing. It’s also a good idea to bring along some toys or other things to keep them entertained in case they get bored.
The best way to supervise them is by playing with them or giving them some work. If you give some work, they won’t do any unnecessary things in the boat. Allocate work based on the capability of your kids. Give them a separate place so that they will sit there only.
12. Give them appropriate shoes
While boating wearing proper shoes is essential not only for kids as well as parents. If you are not wearing proper shoes, then you might slip in the boat. There are some specified shoes for boating everyone needs to wear them while they are in a boat.
There is a high chance of boat floor becoming wet while boating. If the boat floor is wet, then you might slip easily on the boat. Kids can easily slip on wet floors. To prevent that, everyone needs to wear boating shoes, which are made up of neoprene material.
The neoprene material is good for water resistance and has a good grip. This fabric boasts tough water-resistant properties and the ability to withstand temperatures down to -20. It has a good grip, so you need to worry about slippery floors or any in the boat.
Check my article on Recommended shoes for boating (don’t worry, it will open in new tab). In this article, I mentioned about everything you need to consider while buying shoes for boating.
- Don’t forget to give your kids a life jacket to wear in the boat. It should fit properly as well. Remember that swimming aids such as water wings or inflatable arm rings are fun toys for kids, but they should never be used in place of a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or PFD.
- Teach the kids how to use the safety equipment and tell their locations in the boat as well. Sometimes, it may save your time, and they will help others too.
- Keep an eye on them while the boat is moving. Kids won’t be calm in the boat you need to check them regularly. Give them some work so that they will concentrate on that.
- Bring extra fruits and snacks while boating. Bring all the clothes and be ready with warm clothes, blankets, etc. Bring the cooler as well for keeping any cold item for kids.
- Finally, apply sunscreen. For kids, less than 5 years with SPF 50, and for kids above 6 years use a sunscreen with SPF 30 and +. Don’t forget about ears, hands, feet, shoulders, and behind the neck. Protect lips with an SPF 30 lip balm.
These are the main safety tips for boating with kids. Tell them to drink plenty of water while boating.