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Be safe with your kids onboard!

Submitted onAugust 15, 2009 No comments yet, share your thoughts

KidsOnBoard

Everything you need to know when your cruising with kids aboard your vessel

Our children symbolize the true meaning of loving unselfishly. It is said that once a person becomes a parent they are no longer living solely for themselves, but instead are living primarily for their children. For many of us, boating has become our passion, it is no longer a mere hobby, but instead an essential part of our existence. How do we combine the two, both our family setting and the boating world?  How do we ensure that the transition happens smoothly and that everyone is comfortable in the process? How do we make certain that our children enjoy this new environment while also remaining safe at all times? There are valid answers to these questions which will help everyone when merging these two worlds successfully..

If your children are still babies, this new change will be a lot easier to make than if they were older and more self-sufficient. When their movements are limited and they are still completely dependent on you, it is less difficult for you to keep an eye on them. They can easily be monitored and controlled and you won’t have to worry about them running around, at least not yet!  As children get a little older, entering the toddler phase, you will have to enforce new rules and be more observant of their behavior. Much like you’ve done with your homes on land, you will need to start implementing safety plans and instructions for your homes on water.

Let’s look at the actual layout of a boat first, much as we would with the layout of a house. How did you add or subtract certain features in order to increase the safety of your children? As you know, once they reach a certain age, they are able to venture off on their own, investigating every corner and opening every door, likely to get into anything. The same concerns you have in your home also apply while on your boat, such as sharp edges, pointy objects, and dangerous products. Along with these there are some additional things to think about like engine rooms, high platforms, slippery floors, loose ropes, flares and fire guns. With careful planning and laying down some ground rules, you will be able to bring your children aboard safely.

If you are dealing with a boat you already own, begin to take a tour of the boat with a new set of eyes. Are the railings to wide, is there a space where your children could accidentally slip through and fall into the water? Are there certain places or rooms on the boat where your children could stay confined, allowing you to watch over them without wandering around? Maybe there are some objects you need to put away or sharp edges on tables that need to be dulled. Do you need to add some doors or locks which will offer more safety, keeping your kids with you at all times? One thing that is nice on a boat is that the cabinets already come child-proofed, their special latches prevent children from getting into anything. For everything else, you need to make a plan, write down the changes that need to be made and begin to execute these new ideas.

kidsOnBoard3

If you are purchasing a new boat, you might want to look for certain features which will contribute to making it a safer environment for your kids. For example, you might want a larger fly bridge, big enough to fit children and adults, ensuring that every child is always accompanied by an adult. This can be a great place for the kids to enjoy the outdoors while also remaining in one place where they can be supervised. Do you need wider walkways, permitting an adult to walk beside the child, rather than in front or behind?

What about electronics? There are certain devices that will assist you when watching over small children. For instance, an intercom system provides a way to communicate with members of your family when aboard your vessel. If you are looking for one of your children, you can call down to see if they are in another room. If an emergency occurs, you can alert everyone on the boat, offering them the opportunity to react quickly if need be. You may want to use an intercom for something simple like asking someone for a bottle of milk or a baby blanket. Whatever the purpose, this system can alleviate aggravation and extra work, simplifying your daily duties. Another useful electronic to use would be your Autopilot option, a feature that usually comes with the boat. This will allow you to move around more often, playing with your children and paying closer attention to their activities.

One of the most important items to purchase is a lifejacket. When looking at various types of jackets always make sure to have your child try it on first, checking to see if it’s comfortable for them as well as effective. Lifejackets with a crotch strap are also a very good investment because it keeps the jacket positioned correctly. Buying bright-colored lifejackets will help you see your child if they get submerged in water. Some jackets also come with whistles attached to them, allowing your child to be heard if they travel a far distance from the boat. Testing out the jacket is another good idea, making sure that it works for the child when they are swimming in water is imperative. Teach your children the reasons for wearing a life jacket and explain to them that they must wear one because it is the law. Since it is an actual law, it might make it easier for your children to cooperate when told to wear one.

KidsOnBoard2Setting rules and enforcing them, just as you do at home, will help ensure your children’s safety. Teaching your kids from the beginning is always important and will guarantee that they will follow what you tell them. The rules are pretty simple, no running on the boat, always wear your lifejacket, be sure to hold on to the railing, don’t touch the control panel, always have a buddy, etc. It is natural to give rules when parenting, but when living or spending time on a boat, there are many more rules and worries to think about.

Applying the things that you already know is part of the transformation when turning your boat into a safe home for your children. Remember to keep your young ones hydrated with lots of fluids, the sun is always stronger on the water and applying sunscreen on a regular basis is definitely necessary.

Life on the water can be extremely exhilarating for the kids, especially if it is a new experience. The wonderful world of sea creatures and the deep ocean waters really can capture a child’s imagination. There’s so much for them to see and enjoy, so let them take it all in. If they want to watch their favorite shows or movies they can always go inside and watch them on the DVD player. The toys and entertainment that they used at home are still readily available to them when they’re on the boat. Incorporate the things that worked so well at home with the new options you have on your yacht and your children will never be bored again!

An excellent resource is the site We Live on a Boat

Are you planning on boating with your kids? How do you ensure their safty?

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