For residents and snowbirds alike, the formula is simple: water = fun. Florida boasts miles of beaches on three sides of the state. According to VisitFlorida, preliminary figures show that in 2020, Florida received approximately 79.8 million visitors, not including residents. This was a 39.3% increase from 2019, attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. The most popular activities for domestic visitors in 2019 were beach or waterfront activities (44%). Simply speaking, despite the plethora of theme parks in Florida, visitors come for the beaches.
However, boating and watercraft come with their own set of dangers, particularly for children.
That said, be very careful to watch over your kids because boating accidents can lead to serious injuries and even death, and defective rentals can be quite dangerous. If you’ve been injured in a boat or watercraft in Florida, let a Florida personal injury lawyer at Searcy Denney help you recover the financial compensation you’re entitled to.
How to Keep Children Safe on Boats
According to Markel, with 70+ years of experience in niche markets underwriting property and casualty solutions for both standard and hard-to-place risks, there are a number of safety precautions you can take ahead of and during any boating trip. Some of these safety tips include the following.
Before Your Boating Trip
- Take a family boat safety course. To stress the importance of safety to your children, you should take your older kids to a boating safety course. In Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, although there is no “boating license,” Florida law requires anyone who was born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, to successfully complete an approved boating safety course and obtain a Boating Safety Education Identification Card issued by the FWC.
- Learn CPR, and teach it to all of your family members and guests. CPR saves lives. It is important to take the extra precaution of learning CPR, as you never know when it will be needed. Knowing CPR can also give you peace of mind and help you enjoy your trip. You can learn CPR through a simple class, or read about the steps from the American Red Cross.
- Make sure everyone on the boat possesses AND WEARS a well-fitted life jacket. Take your child to get fitted, as weight determines the size of the life jacket for children. Children 13 years or younger are required to wear a U.S.Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times while on a boat. Life jackets for children are typically designed for extra safety, by including a crotch strap that prevents the life jacket from riding up, a handle on the life jacket used to easily lift the child out of the water, and head support that is padded to keep the child’s head above the water.
- Childproof your boat, the same way you’d childproof your house. Make sure all loose and sharp items that can be tripped over or a child can get caught up in are stored out of the way, but still easily accessible to you when you need them.
- Every family member and guest should take swimming lessons. Swimming lessons allow your kids to get used to the water and learn how to tread water and float.
- Educate on the different types of water. Teach your kids that swimming in the ocean or lake is very different from swimming in a pool due to currents, undertows, changing weather, and rocky surfaces. Instruct kids not to dive because you never know how shallow the water really is or the type of surface below the water.
During your Time on the Water
- Set out clear rules while children are on the boat, such as remaining seated, keeping hands and feet on the boat at all times. No running on the boat.
- Be sure to have the following items on the boat:
- Water and other hydrating liquids
- Plastic bags for wet clothes
- Hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses
- Towels, blankets, and jackets
- Keep kids entertained. Most kids enjoy “driving” the boat.
- Docking the boat. Docking a boat can be tricky for experienced adults, not to mention kids. Make sure one person is watching the kids as another person is docking the boat. It is often necessary for two people to dock a boat, so you may want to safely secure kids in the cabin while docking.
According to DANBOATER, the self-proclaimed World’s Premier Travel Safety Association, it’s also a good idea to:
- Familiarize every adult or teen passenger with the radio. Aside from toddlers, everyone aboard your boat should know how to call for help in case of an emergency.
- Check on everyone’s fitness to travel.
- Prevent painful sunburns. Limit everyone’s time in the direct sunlight, which is stronger on the water, and liberally apply sunscreen.
- Avoid hyperthermia and hypothermia. Bring lots of water, juice, and cool treats aboard to keep children hydrated. Also remember that when kids get wet, they get cold much faster than adults do and that even on hot days, ocean breezes and wind from a moving boat can quickly chill a child. So, don’t forget to pack extra clothes and nice big towels to keep them warm and dry.
- Keep everyone fed. Pack lots of healthy snacks, like trail mix, fresh fruit, yogurt cups, and cheese sticks, but go easy on the sugar.
- Inspect and re-stock your first aid kit. Watch out for seasickness. Remember that kids are more prone to bouts of seasickness than adults are, so have a variety of anti-nausea remedies onboard and pack plenty of bug repellent and calamine lotion to prevent and treat bug bites. If you’re cruising the coast, carry vinegar to treat jellyfish stings. Stings can be quite painful and even dangerous.
Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer if You’ve Been Involved in a Boat or Watercraft Accident
Boating and watercraft are fun but potentially dangerous. There are just a few boating safety precautions between you and the fun you’re going to have on the water. Still, if you or a loved one have been involved in a boating or watercraft accident, a Florida personal injury lawyer can help with your insurance and legal claims. Contact us to schedule your free consultation. At Searcy Denney, we work entirely on a contingency fee basis, with no risk to you.