Boating with Kids and Pets.

A boat is something that the whole family, including the dog, can enjoy but both children and animals need their adults to be aware of the potential hazards inherent in boating for the young (or four footed).

This water safety blog entry is therefore focused on reducing the chance of problems while out enjoying a day on the water with the "family"

Take the following essential precautions to help protect your children:

  • Babies who can’t sit without support and are too young to wear a portable flotation device (PFD) should be held by an adult at all times.

  • Toddlers should always be within arm’s reach of an adult when they are in or around water. This includes pools, bathtubs, and beaches, and other water sources.

  • Swimming lessons are a great opportunity for families to participate in fun activities that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. But on their own, they will not protect or prevent a child from drowning.

  • All children should be supervised by an adult when they are in or around water and should never be left alone in a pool or bathtub, even for a moment.

  • The Lifesaving Society recommends a supervision ratio of at least 1 adult for every 2 young children, and 1 adult for every baby.

For more information on water safety for children Read More.

3 Easy Tips for Boating with Kids

These helpful hints have been adapted from a post on the Simple Parent site.

Get them comfortable with life-jackets.

A parent's biggest concern for children is their safety. Children need to wear life-jackets the entire time they’re on the boat or doing boating activities, so doing the prep work to make sure they’re comfortable is one key to a smooth and successful trip. Take the time before you go boating to help them get used to wearing them.

Your best bet for a good life jacket or life vest is one with a collar that turns a child face up in the water. It must have strong waist and crotch straps, a handle on the collar, and preferably be a bright yellow or orange colour for good visibility.

Attach a plastic safety whistle to the life jacket and teach the child how to use the whistle.

Learn the rules together. Before you hit the water, sit down together and learn all about the rules of taking a boat out on the water. Learn about the boat you’ll be on and learn about the lake or body of water you’ll be exploring. It’s also a great way to spend time together. Learning about things like the boat’s radio is also something the kids love.

Pack a Boating with Kids Bag

Just like you pack a bag for the pool, don’t hesitate to pack a bag for on the boat!

The best way to make sure you have a great experience boating with your kids is to come prepared!

Some of the things to take onboard include:

  • Sunscreen, sunscreen and more sunscreen

  • Hats and sunglasses

  • Something for motion sickness (if your kids have issues with this)

  • Lots of towels (when the boat is moving and kids are wet, they get cold quickly no matter how warm it is out!)

  • A few sets of extra clothes

  • Bring snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated and that don’t melt

  • Things for them to do

Have an option to offer refuge for the kids if they need a nap or are getting too much sun.

Life Jackets and Kids

  • You can use either a life-jacket or a PFD for your child, as long as it is designed for children. In Canada, approved life jackets and PFDs are not available for infants who weigh less than 9 kg (20 lb). There is no safety standard for smaller infants.

  • PFDs or life jackets should be worn by all infants who weigh at least 9 kg (20 lb) and by toddlers who are swimming or playing near or in the water.

  • Check the label to be sure that your child’s PFD or life jacket meets current national safety standards. It should be approved by at least one of the following: Transport Canada, Canadian Coast Guard or Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

  • It should be the right size for your child’s weight. Make sure it stays buckled up. Keep all safety straps fastened, including the crotch strap.

Remember that water wings, neck rings, bathing suits with flotation devices in them, and other swim toys ARE NOT safety devices.

On a final note: In Canada, drowning is the second most common cause of death for children under 5 years of age. Children can drown in as little as 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water. With the Mississippi Lake or River as a backyard playground caution needs to be practiced. Keep children away from ponds and streams at any time of year, unless you are with them. Be extra cautious with fast currents that occur during spring runoff and after heavy down pours

Boating with Pets

We love to bring our "best friend" along on our adventures and we want to keep them safe while we do it. Here are some helpful tips to make the adventure good for both two and four legged boaters.

  • Make sure the pet is always wearing a flotation device, preferably one with a handle so you can lift their head above water or help lift them out of the water.

  • Make sure your dog has identification or has been micro-chipped

  • Put the pet’s bed or bedding in a quiet area.

  • Carry a fresh water supply and keep water available at all times and avoid allowing your pet to drink the local water.

  • Keep a long-handled crab or fish net within grabbing distance on deck to retrieve small pets that fall overboard.

  • For cats hang a strip of carpet overboard in case they go overboard. They may be able to grab onto it and climb back up.

  • Exercise: Make sure your dog is exercised either by swimming or running around the deck. Bring floatable toys for the dog to play with and also chews.

  • When on land never allow your pet to roam off leash, never allow your pet to go visit with a strange dog. Clean up and properly dispose of any feces.

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