Teach Your Kids Safe Boating
One reason boating remains the favorite pastime of thousands of Piedmont lake dwellers is that it provides fun for the whole family. Kids who grow up boating are introduced to a pastime and a lifestyle they probably will love for life. That’s why it’s important to teach them the basics of safe boating at an early age. They’ll be safer while they’re on the boat with you, and, should an emergency arise and they have to take command of the boat, they’ll be ready.
- Because boating is inherently interesting and fun, and because kids are naturally curious, most are eager to learn all they can. Feed that curiosity by providing them a basic boating education that includes these areas:
Swimming – It seems obvious, but you might be surprised how many parents neglect to make sure their kids are strong swimmers. If they’re going to spend a lot of time around water, this is a must.
- PFDs – Children under 13 are legally required to wear personal flotation device while aboard. Make sure this becomes a habit.
- Boating terminology – In case your children have to tell authorities where they are and what’s going on with the boat, be sure they know such terms as port and starboard, forward and aft, and can identify major parts of the boat.
- Basic navigation – Start early teaching your kids to read a chart, identify channel markers and use landmarks to understand where they are.
- Safety equipment – Show children how to use a fire extinguisher and flares when necessary. Conduct man-overboard drills and show them how to use the mirrors and whistles on their PFDs.
- Basic radio operation – Be sure your kids understand that the radio is not a toy, but an important safety tool. Don’t allow them to play with it, but show them how to operate it when necessary.
Safe Boating Training
The Piedmont area is rich in resources for boat safety education, and several organizations have classes especially for youngsters. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary’s Boating Fun course is designed for kids age 4-9, and its Waypoints course is aimed at 10-to-12-year-olds, and your local branch of the U.S. Power Squadron also offers a Kids’ Boating Safety class.
Lighthouse Marine Service also offers boating safety classes for all ages, as well as advanced courses for those interested in a Captain’s license. Check with local community college for boating safety courses, as well as other public and private boating schools.