Boating is a great way to spend time with your whole family relaxing and having fun together. When you have young children, though, you might feel a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of keeping them safe and entertained out on the water. Never fear! Having a successful family boating outing is perfectly within your reach if you follow this list of tips for boating with kids, provided by the family-friendly staff at Tom-N-Jerry’s Boat Center. Our dealership is located in Mount Vernon, Washington, so if your boat needs a tune-up before your next family outing, contact our service department so our mechanics can get you all ready for an afternoon of fun and adventure with your kids.
It’s very important to make sure that your kids follow safety guidelines when aboard a boat. Ideally, your children will know how to swim and float so that if they fall overboard, it’s not a catastrophe. Each child should nevertheless wear a well-fitted life jacket that is comfortable for them, and the adults on board should model good behavior by wearing their own life jackets. Let kids know how important it is that they not run on the dock or while on the boat in case they slip and fall. Tell them that the controls of the boat are off-limits until they are older and educated in how to operate the boat, and urge them not to disturb the boat’s operator while the boat is in motion.
You should also let children know where essential safety gear is stored so that they can access it in case an adult cannot do so in an emergency. Show them how to throw the life ring on board, how to open the first aid kit and where the fire extinguisher is. Tour the boat with them before you leave so they know where everything on it is and are aware of anything they could trip over or stub their toe on. Make sure to review boat safety rules right before you leave dock so that they are fresh in kids’ minds.
You want to have everything you could possibly need on your boat since you won’t be back to shore for a few hours or even all day if it’s a particularly long excursion. This means preparing for every eventuality, particularly when kids can be unpredictable in their wants and needs. Supplies should include a well-stocked first aid kit with ginger candy (for young children who are feeling queasy) or Dramamine (only for children older than 12), bandages, ointments, aloe vera, bug spray, sunscreen, painkillers and any necessary medications. Tweezers will be useful in case someone gets a splinter from the deck. Fill a cooler up with snacks and drinks to keep bellies full and happy. Pack blankets, jackets and extra clothes in case kids get wet, since they will be more susceptible to cold and even a light breeze can lower temperatures on the water significantly.
Adults may not require any more from a boating excursion than the chance to relax, unwind and watch the sunset, but kids are high energy and might get bored if there’s nothing much going on to keep them occupied. Keep their needs and interests in mind when boating and make sure to provide some entertainment options for them. This could include marine-themed coloring books or toys to play with, games like I Spy to engage them with the environment and a way to play their favorite music on board the boat. Giving kids tasks and responsibilities that are age-appropriate for them can make them feel included, so make them part of “the crew” by having them check on safety equipment, look over a map of the waterway you’re in, hold up flags and navigate using a compass.
If you’re seeking to upgrade your boat to a larger model to accommodate everyone, come down to our Mount Vernon dealership location to see our wide array of new and used boats for sale in every style. Tom-N-Jerry’s Boat Center serves the greater Seattle metro area, including the cities of Tacoma and Bellevue, Washington.