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Boating with your family is one of life’s great pleasures. Boating with small kids, however, requires parents to consider their needs, and then prepare and pack accordingly. Here are some tips for keeping your youngsters safe on board.

Invest in the correct PFD. All states have regulations regarding personal flotation devices (PFDs) for children, but these can vary by vessel size and style. Be sure you know the rules for your state and boat. Also educate yourself on the different types of PFDs for kids and how to use them.

Ensure the PFD fits properly. In order to work, a PFD must fit snuggly, so check the label for the specified height and weight range of the child. Try the PFD on and secure all of the straps and fastenings according to the instructions. To make sure it fits, lift the child by the shoulders of the PFD; their chin should not slip through the head opening.

Pack for sun protection. Just a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life. Protect your kids with a hat and clothes that cover their bare skin. Sunglasses will protect young eyes from UV rays. When it comes to sunscreen, use one with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB protection. Apply 30 minutes before going outdoors and then reapply every 90 minutes. Don’t forget to protect ears, noses, lips and the tops of feet.

Childproof your boat. Take a kid’s-eye view of the boat and gear. Make sure there are no hazardous or dangerous items within reach (this includes inside drawers and lockers). If you have toddlers aboard, it’s a good idea to cover the sharp corners of tables and countertops with bumpers and install plastic covers over outlets. Netting that extends from gunwale to rail can keep kids safely on board where they belong.

Minimize restlessness. The more entertained and interested kids are, the less likely they are to get into trouble. Teach them about the boat and about boating safety. Take them on a tour of the boat, show them the limits and explain the potential dangers. Include them in your fishing and water sports, even in routine engine checks. It will make the ride more enjoyable and safer, for the whole family.

United Marine Underwriters is more than just boat insurance. Browse our Boats For Sale at BoatBrowser or our Lake Resource Guide at LakeBrowser or share your fishing stories and photos at True Fish Tales – the ones that did not get away.

 
 
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