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Boating With Kids

Boating Safely with Kids: What You Should and Shouldn’t Do

A day out on the lake or open water is a fun family event that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. With kids on board, there are a few extra precautions you should take to keep it fun and accident-free.

Life Jackets

You children should always wear a life jacket when they are around open bodies of water and taking part in water activities and spots. It is important the life jacket not only fit snugly but also be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

To test the fit, simply have your child raise their hands straight up above their head. If the jacket hits their chin or ears, the straps are either too loose, or the jacket is simply too big. Swimming aids are NOT lifejackets. Do not rely upon them in open bodies of water – even if your child can swim.

Infants and Babies

Boats and babies are just not a good mix. Before they reach a certain weight, there are no approved personal flotation devices. This includes taking them on motorboats, sailboats, rowboats, and kayaks. If they are too young to wear their own safety vest, they should not be on a boat.

Never bring an infant or baby on board a boat in a car seat or baby carrier. If there were a boating accident, these seats would cause them to instantly sink.


Young children are much more susceptible to hypothermia. If they are cold or shivering, wrap them tightly in a dry towel or blanket. You should always take extra dry clothes for them as well.

Basic Boating Rules

Go over the rules of the water with your children. This includes keeping their feet and hands inside the boat at all times and no running on the boat. Teach them the difference between open water and swimming in a pool.

They need to be aware of ocean undertow, river currents, and changing weather conditions, as well as uneven surfaces and debris. Do not let them dive from a boat and only allow them to swim in designated swimming areas. An adult should always be actively supervising children when they are in the water.