Keeping Your Family Safe on the Boat

Even though school’s back in session, Indiana will continue to enjoy warm weekend weather–perfect for boating. As you load up your family for a fun afternoon out on the lake, it is important to abide by safe boating practices. Keep your loved ones protected out on the boat with these tips:

Keep infants less than 18 lbs off the boat. The US Coast Guard recommends against taking babies less than 18 pounds out on boats. Very young children are too small for life vests to fit securely. Since infants require extra protection against the sun or mosquitoes, it can be a good idea to wait until they are a little older before including them in the fun of being out on the lake.

Don’t rely on flotation devices for non-swimmers. It’s best to enroll children in swimming classes rather than relying on life jackets or other flotation devices to keep non or weak swimmers afloat. Children feel more confident when they have swimming skills, and parents will have more peace of mind.

Check life jackets. Make sure children are outfitted with life vests that fit securely and won’t slip over their heads. It’s always a good idea to have extra life jackets on the boat in case friends come to visit.

Check the weather. Be wise before you board the boat. Check the local weather and plan to head back inside if you notice signs of a storm. Darkening clouds, sudden drops in temperature, high winds or sounds of thunder should alert you to go back to the house.

Don’t allow kids operate water crafts unless properly trained. Make sure your older children are properly trained and can handle the responsibility of driving a boat or jet ski. Take the time to teach them how to use best practices when using expensive and potentially dangerous equipment.

Enroll in a boat safety course. Make it a priority to stay up-to-date with a boat safety course. You might also want to consider a first aid training course to keep your family safe on the lake as well.

Be responsible with alcohol. Most boating accidents occur when alcohol is present–particularly among teenagers. Assign a designated driver who will not be drinking when your family enjoys an evening or afternoon on the lake. Always make sure to educate your teenager about the dangers of alcohol as well.

If you follow these practices, your family should enjoy and fun and safe summer out on the water!

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