Summer is boating season, and being out on the water together is a great way to spend family time. When you mix kids and boats, however, it's important to know how to keep everyone safe. Here are some important tips to help make all your boating experiences problem free:
1. Life jackets on everybody
Children will protest less about wearing their life jackets if they see all the adults wearing them as well. People over the age of 16 have the option of choosing the new Coast Guard-approved auto-inflating vests. These are more comfortable because they sit close to the body, and they only inflate if you pull the ripcord.
2. Bring a child-comfort kit
Your boat should already carry a first-aid kit, but there are some extra items you'll want to bring along for your children's safety and comfort. Sunscreen and sunhats are important, but you may also want to bring an over-the-counter seasickness remedy, chewable antihistamines, a set of dry clothing and some familiar music or comforting toys. Younger children tire easily while out boating, and may behave unpredictably. Helping a tired child have a nap may be a simple way to avoid accidents.
3. Check the weather forecast
If you're planning to be out in open water on the ocean or on a large lake, weather is a serious factor that has to be taken into account. Wind is the most common danger, but electrical storms can pose serious risks to smaller boats that aren't constructed with a lightning protection system in place. Too much sun can present a safety problem as well, so it's crucial that you ensure that all passengers have access to shade and that there is plenty of fresh drinking water on board.
4. Skip the alcohol
Boats are vehicles, and over one-third of boating accidents result from a driver who is under the influence of alcohol. Drinking creates a greater problem for boat operators than it does for automobile drivers since the stresses of sun, vibration, engine noise, motion and spray intensify the effects of alcohol. Furthermore, most recreational boaters are relatively inexperienced, since they haven't spent many hours operating the boat and thus have fewer driving reflexes. Every state has criminal statutes forbidding boating while under the influence (BUI), and if you do get into an accident, you may be subject to stiff fines or criminal charges.
5. Fuel and exhaust safety
Before you start out, double-check your fuel gauge to make sure you have plenty of gasoline. Also, if your boat has indoor areas, it's important to make sure that all exhaust is properly vented. Boat engines produce carbon monoxide, and small enclosed cabins are not safe places in which to operate propane heaters or camp stoves.
Practicing responsible boating is the way to avoid boat damage and liability. Even with the best of intentions, however, accidents may happen; call us at 815-229-4040 for more information about insuring yourself and your boat.