Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Boating and Kids

Educating children on radio procedures can benefit recreational boating safety in several ways. First, teach your child how to use a VHR radio properly, and should your child ever need to really use the radio, they will know how.

Proper use of nautical terminology helps, using proper terminology and radio procedure can be crucial in trusting the information the child is giving.

Basic Navigation
Nothing could be worse than providing all training, and leaving out basic navigation. All children depending on age, can be taught to read a chart, and by using landmarks, give an approximation of their location.

Making it a game, you can instill more safety values, as well as assist your child by giving them real-life experience in skills that they may not learn for several years, or only learn in a book form.

Safety Equipment
We should teach our children about the safety equipment we carry on our boats. The fire extinguisher, flares, whistles, mirrors, the radio are all items that should not be foreign to them. Remember, even though they are a child, they are a member of the crew, and while again, this is age dependent, they can be crucial to observing, and avoiding dangerous situations.

Teach your child how a fire extinguisher works. Teach them the ABC’s of fire fighting. Have them practice with an extinguisher. You may never know when this experience can come in handy, whether on the boat or in the kitchen.

Teach them about flares, the dangers and the benefits of using them properly. Teach them how to use them, when to use them, and most of all, that they are "Not a Toy".

Teach our children about whistles and mirrors, which should be attached to their PFD’s. Tell them, show them, and practice with them, not only using these pieces of safety equipment, but man overboard drills.

Our children are never too young to learn. It is just how we go about teaching them recreational boating safety that is the difference. Make a game of each lesson. Make it enjoyable. As they get older, add more and more information, so by the time our children become teenagers, they are not only able to take the boat out (local law permitting), but are fully knowledgeable about the operation of both vessel and recreational boating safety.

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary can help in this area. They have several programs for for children, such as Boating Fun (4 – 9 year olds), and Waypoints (10 – 12 year olds). Many of the older children (9 years old and up) take Boating Safely with their parents.