Summer Boating Safety

Summer Boating SafetySummer is here, and for many people, that means heading to the lake, especially near July 4th weekend. Riding on a boat is really exciting for little ones, but it might make mom nervous.

A family recently made the news for taking their small children on a boat ride from Mexico to New Zealand when their 1-year-old daughter got sick, their boat began to sink, and their radio failed, forcing the father to send out a call for help that resulted in a risky open-water rescue by the National Guard.

If you want to take your baby or toddler on a boat this summer, follow these important safety tips to keep everyone safe.

  • Learn CPR.  Every parent should know CPR, whether you are ever around the water or not.
  • Choose the right life jacket for your child. A proper fitting life jacket should not hit your child’s chin or ears when they put their hands up. If you can’t find a life jacket small enough for your child, you should not be taking them on a boat at all, according to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of Boating Safety.
  • Keep kids warm. Small children are at a higher risk for hypothermia, and once the sun goes down, it can cool down fast, especially if you are out on a boat in the open water. Make sure you have extra dry clothes for children, including an extra outer layer, even if you think it’s warm enough out.
  • Make sure the kids know the rules. All children should know the rules of the boat, such as keeping hands and feet inside, and always having a hand on deck, even when walking around.
  • Test your Carbon monoxide alarm. These alarms warn you of buildups of toxic fumes coming from the engine.
  • Never, ever drink while boating. Most boating accidents involve alcohol. Don’t drink while boating.

All my older two kids learned to swim at an early age because we exposed them to water in fun ways that encouraged them to be independent and confident–but we don’t take stupid chances. Be safe and have fun this summer.

Erin Hayes Burt is freelance writer and mom of three who just moved from Texas to Lake George, New York. 

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