We all hope that safety training and preparedness will help reduce the number of accidents. Here are some of the best ideas those of us in the boat insurance industry have heard about to help get kids and teens embrace boating safety:
Walk the talk. As parents, you have to set a good example. You cannot tell kids (especially teens) to wear life jackets if they never see you or other adults on the boat doing so. Make boating safety a family expectation and rule that applies to everyone.
Make safety gear fun. There are amazing children’s life jackets now with bright colors and designs. Little kids can learn to buckle up (they always like to do things for themselves!). Celebrate each time you hear the click of that personal flotation device buckle. Children’s life jackets should keep them face up in the water and should be brightly colored for high visibility. Add a whistle for little ones to blow if they fall overboard and practice how to make nice loud sounds. Involve older kids and teens. Pre-teens and teenagers can take a more active role in boating safety. While you might not leave sorting out the boat insurance to them just yet, they are fully capable of taking first aid courses and boating safety certification. Encourage them to take proper training and help to watch out for younger children.
Have clear rules for boat safety. Propellers are potentially dangerous, even at rest so children, teens, and adults need to be cautious when on board or swimming. If you see other boaters taking risks – perhaps riding on gunwales while a boat is moving – point out the potential hazard to family members calmly and clearly. Have zero tolerance on your boat for dangerous behavior.
Practice makes perfect. Have boat drills to test everyone’s understanding of emergency plans and responses to situations such as a person overboard. Younger children might enjoy games and coloring sheets that teach boating safety, like this comic and activity book by Alaska Safe Boater Kids or this activity book for preteens by Waypoints. Remember that small children need rest. Cranky tots are not reasonable, so either build in on-shore naps or travel in a boat that has a cabin (or other are) where children can rest safely.
Do you have other tips for teaching boating safety for kids? We’d love to hear from you in our comments. If you haven’t had your boat insurance coverage reviewed lately, contact our marine insurance specialists at Global Marine Insurance today. We offer specialized boat insurance at competitive rates.