6 tips to child-proof your boat for the best family trips

6 tips to child-proof your boat for the best family trips

Sometimes you want to spend precious time with your family in new environments. Changing your surroundings is essential because experiencing different things can help you and your kids de-stress and become more open to the world. However, all journeys must be done with caution because, quite often, people forget about safety.

Therefore, if you want to take your family on a boat trip, you should research the boats that already have built-in child-proof technologies. This will save you time and money, even if these boats might be a little pricier than regular ones. But with the proper mechanisms and good practices, you can ensure safety, security and a good time altogether.

Learn everything about your boat

There’s nothing better for ensuring safety than learning what your boat can do. In times of emergency, you’ll know how to act so that everyone can get out of a situation safely. You can also teach your kids something about the vehicle (if they’re old enough to understand) so that they at least know where to go in case of danger.

Make sure a qualified person thoroughly checks your boat before departure. You can ask them anything you want to know and, at the same time, get your vehicle inspected. Moreover, always devise a backup plan in case you go on longer trips. For example, ask a professional if having a used outboard motor is necessary, and they might recommend the proper model for your boat.

Have personal flotation devices

Personal flotation devices (PDFs) are much more than just a regular lifejacket. They’re designed to feel more comfortable and are perfect for constant wear, which is crucial for your kids to have when being on a boat for the first time. Many types of PDFs are made for all kinds of situations, for example:
• Offshore life jackets are made for when you’re passing through rough or remote waters;
• Near-shore vests are to be worn in calm waters;
• Flotation aids are the most common to be used in clear waters;
• Throwable devices are required by law for people who own any vessel 16 feet in length or longer. They are designed for people to hold on to, so they’re not for wearing purposes;
• Special-use devices are customised and used for specific sports, such as kayaking or windsurfing;

You should get PDFs in accordance with your kids’ weight and size. A good-fitting vest must be comfortable when worn but not too loose and should not go over the child’s ears. Lastly, know the guidelines regarding the appropriate age or weight for your child to be travelling on a boat. In some places, it is recommended that your child weights at least 20 lbs to be fit for wearing a PDF.

Provide enough sun protection

Regardless of the weather during your trip, getting sun protection for your kids is essential if you want to avoid skin issues. That’s because the water intensifies the sun’s rays, which means it can penetrate the skin’s barrier even more than usual. Getting 50+ SPF products is recommended, but you can also use other ways to protect your kids from sunburn:
• Cover them up as much as possible, especially between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM;
• Let them get out in the sun for a shorter period;
• If you think your child would want to stay out, make sure the boat has enough shading;
• Get them some sunglasses with UV protection

Prepare your boat for emergency

There’s a simple rule of thumb when it comes to the duration of your boating. For example, it’s important to pack for an extra overnight ashore for a day trip. Therefore, depending on how many days you spend on the boat, pack enough food and supplies to balance the time spent on your journey. Staying hydrated and energised is crucial, so make sure you have plenty of cans of protein and enough water because even playing in saltwater or sitting in the sun all day can drain you faster than usual.

Moreover, be prepared with used outboard engines in case this is not the first boat trip. These motors are best because they provide enough steering control and allow the vehicle to cut through water quickly, which means you can get out of any uncomfortable situation.

Teach your kids basic swimming skills

Although wearing vests is essential, you need to think of the worst that can happen when sailing. That’s because you never know what waves come in your journey, so it’s best to be prepared at all times. Even you and your spouse should know how to swim. Some of the most fundamental skills you all need to know include:
• Breathing out with both your nose and mouth when your head is underwater;
• Floating helps you keep your body on the water’s surface;
• Body movement is crucial because your muscles, abdomen and hips should move in a synchronised way;
• Kicking helps you move in the forward direction;
• Strokes help you pull the body through the water with hand movements;

Learning how to swim will not only save your kids’ life (in case of an emergency) but is also highly beneficial for their health.

Secure the boat

Finally, here are some tips on securing your boat’s features so that you can rest assured when driving the boat:
• Always be within arms’ reach on deck so you can be ready at all times for anything;
• Never leave the keys in the ignition because kids are very curious beings;
• Secure cockpit doors with a lock on the exterior and a strap that snaps over;
• Always lock cabin doors, even when you are inside the cabin;
• Cover outlets in the cabin, especially the ones easy to reach;
• Clear gear from the cockpit (boat lines, air horns and fishing gear should be put in a safe place);

Bottom line

Preparing your boat for a nice trip with your family will ensure that everyone is safe and secure no matter what happens. So, get your sunscreen, cockpit lockers and motors, and have fun!