Boating is a fun family activity, but anything involving kids can be unpredictable. From temper-tantrums to reckless playing, have kids on a boat can be challenging. Here are a few tips to help make boating with your kids both fun and safe.
Wear PFDs. Lifejackets are especially important for kids, as their lack of experience makes them vulnerable to accidents on a boat. It’s also especially important for you to wear a lifejacket, not only to set a good example, but because you can’t keep kids safe if you don’t keep yourself safe.
Bring plenty of food and drinks. Hungry and thirsty kids are unhappy kids. And if they’re unhappy, everyone will be unhappy. Make sure to carry plenty of snacks and drinks.
Carry a first aid kit. Kids are magnets for scrapes, cuts, bumps and bruises. Have a first aid kit readily available on your boat to handle injuries.
Set clear rules. Teach children about the hazards on a boat, such as how unstable a boat is and how slippery it can be. Then set rules about no running onboard, no draping feet over the bow and more.
Pack for the weather. Make sure to pack sweatshirts and rain gear. Also pack your kids a change of clothes in case they get wet or even just spill food or a drink on themselves.
Have sunscreen and bug repellant. You don’t want the kids to be roasted by the sun or eaten by bugs, so bring plenty of sunscreen and bug repellant. Most kids won’t ask for them, so remember to apply it to them and reapply regularly.
Keep them engaged. Keep kids interested in boating by having fun activities for them. Most kids love fishing. Have a picnic and go swimming in a cove or at a small island. Have them look for marine life and birds. You can also have them help navigate and look for buoys, markers and landmarks.