Ahoy, matey! Scrub the deck! Batten down the hatches! Hunky dory! Ship shape! Land ho!
Okay, so maybe our nautical talk isn’t something to be proud of, but we run a tight ship when it comes to teaching Kiwi kids about boat safety, and we’d love to help your kids learn the ropes!
How to Make Sure Your Child is Safe While on a Boat
If you grew up in New Zealand, you probably spent many summer days out on the water with your family. Whether it was your uncle Nick’s boat, your neighbour Charlie’s, or your own family’s, you probably still remember those adventures like it was yesterday - the happy memories of laughing with your loved ones, basking in the sun, the breeze in your hair, and maybe the occasional barf over the side (we’ve all been there, some of us landlubbers just can’t get used to those big swells!).
You’ve probably already read up on how swimming lessons can help your child with beach safety, and how to swim in the sea, but how can you help your kids to become salty dogs?
Keep your boat safe
First and foremost, when it comes to boat safety for kids, you’ve got to ensure the boat you’ll be sailing on is safe for the seas (or lakes, or rivers)!
Ensure she’s seaworthy, load-rated for the number of people who’ll be onboard, stocked with the correct safety gear, like throwlines and first aid kits, and appropriate for the location you’ll be going.
Keep the deck clear of trip hazards, ensure you’re equipped with enough life jackets for everyone onboard, that they are the right size for everyone, be sure that everyone wears them at all times, and check everyone knows how to swim before you set off!
You may like to consider bringing additional floatation devices, such as inflatable rafts or tubes, for added infant boat safety. But, at the very least, keep a minimum of two waterproof emergency communication options onboard, like a phone, VHF radio, beacon, or flares, and check that everything is charged and operational before you head out. Follow Maritime rules and the boating safety code whenever you’re on the water.
It may be tempting to have a few beverages, cast the fishing line out the back of the boat and sink into a relaxing day on the water! But your kids and infants rely on you to keep them safe.
When you’re on a boat, unlike at the beach, there are no lifeguards ready to pull your kids out of the water if something happens, so be sure that you’re prepared for anything, and ensure that someone onboard is first aid trained, because it’s always better safe than sorry.
Since your kids will be counting on you if there is an emergency, why not brush up on your own boat safety and swimming technique with our swimming lessons for adults? Adult lessons are currently available at our Botany, Upper Hutt, Papamoa, Puni and Patumahoe locations, so enrol yourself in swimming lessons at the most convenient Fulton Swim School location for you.
Respect Mother Nature
It probably goes without saying that you should check the weather before you set off to avoid any nasty storms, but keep an eye out on your trip too, if the weather changes unexpectedly, head back to shore.
Of course, you want to watch out for Mother Nature’s mood swings, but make sure you’re a tidy Kiwi while you’re boating and leave no trace of your trip behind - we don’t want Mother Nature to have a reason to get mad! If you come across any rubbish on your voyage, and it is safe to do so, consider bringing it on board to dispose of responsibly.
Stay sun safe
Children and infant boat safety isn’t just about the water! If you’re out on the ocean on a clear day, shady patches will be few and far between. We know we got the short straw with the pesky hole in the ozone above us, but on a boat, you’ll also have the reflection of the sun on the water to contend with, and that could mean risking sunburn, dehydration, and long-term skin damage while you’re out there.
Protect your kids from the sun’s harsh rays by having them dress for the weather, apply sunscreen with a high SPF (triple-check you’re using something waterproof, because even if you don’t plan on going in the water, the spray could reduce the effectiveness, and keep reapplying as directed while you’re out there!), provide them with sunglasses, and have them wear a hat, if it’s not too windy.
If you can, avoid going out when the sun is at its strongest and, if your boat has a canopy, encourage your little ones to stay beneath it when possible.
Can Fulton Swim School help prepare your kids for boating?
Of course! Learning to swim isn’t always going to be plain sailing but the team at Fulton Swim School will make sure your little one is never left high and dry while they’re learning the ropes! We’ll be there every lesson to ensure they’re making waves, in all the best ways!
Having a great base of knowledge of water safety, and the water skills to support themselves, will help your kids to stem the tide if they do get into deep water on a boat trip, and you might find that having a knowledge of boat safety for kids gets them even more excited to jump aboard next time.
So, let’s get all hands on deck to help your kids learn water safety, grow their sea legs, and get them comfortable for their next boating day out!