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Boating is one of the best ways to spend time together outdoors as a family. It can also present an excellent opportunity for you to teach youngsters about boating safety. Keep these safety tips in mind when you bring kids aboard.

1. Make sure every child has a properly fitting life jacket. Children should always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device in a bright color that fits snugly and keeps their chin above water. Never use any swimming aid, such as water wings or noodles, in place of a life jacket.

2. Run through basic safety with kids. Make sure they can follow simple rules, such as keeping hands and feet inside the vessel at all times.

3. Educate kids (and everyone else on board) about the danger of propellers. Never allow anyone to board or exit the boat when the engines are on. Don’t let anyone ride on the bow, gunwale, transom, seatbacks, or other locations where they might fall overboard.

4. Keep fishing hooks, filet knives, gaffs, and other sharp or potentially dangerous objects safely stashed in locked storage compartments.

5. Sign your child up for swimming lessons. Make sure they can tread water, and float.

6. Protect kids from the sun. The sun is stronger when reflected off of the water.

7. Pack plenty of hydration drinks, water, and healthy non-perishable snacks.

8. Keep boat trips short for kids under seven years of age. Youngsters can get tired quickly.

9. Set a good example. You will have a hard time enforcing family boating rules about life jackets or any other safety considerations if you don’t apply those rules yourself.

10. Weather can change quickly, so teach kids to help your family stay alert and aware of dark clouds, sudden drops in temperature, or rough water conditions.

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