Bumps and bruises are part of growing up, but for a toddler who hasn’t grown into their sea legs, a wobble on a moving boat can cause a big problem. Here is a guide to keeping your little one safe while aboard.
Sandra Aris is an active boater and a mother. These padded pants are a product of Aris’s plan to keep children safe while out on the water. Sandra Aris photo
SOUTHERN CALIF.— Summer is on its way, and summer weather makes for the best boating days. For parents who wish to bring their little ones aboard, there are several safety tips to consider before those toddlers hit the deck.
Sandra Aris is a mom, entrepreneur, and frequent-family boater who has created an article of protective clothing for children called Sandra Aris Pants with extra padding to encourage confidence and resilience for children while onboard. In addition to the pants, Aris also has four main tips for keeping your child safe while onboard.
According to Aris, a life jacket is one of the most essential pieces of protective equipment that you can strap to your child.
“Kids that are under thirteen are required to wear a life jacket,” said Aris. “It’s really important to get the right lifejacket for the weight and body shape [of the child] and also to spend the time fitting it. It’s really important to fit the lifejacket to the child because if they were to fall in the water, you need to make sure their head stays above, and then it’s easier for you to pull them out.”
According to boatingsaftey.com, the U.S. Coast Guard requires children under the age of 13 to wear a life jacket, but anyone older is only required to carry life jackets on board unless participating in sports that require the jacket like water skiing.
However, it is always best to wear a life jacket, regardless. In addition, boatingsafety.com offers a free downloadable document that provides proper instruction on fitting a life jacket to a child. The document is a checklist that shows how to make sure the life jacket is official, how to properly wear it so it stays below a child’s chin, are they comfortable in the jacket, and if it is strong enough to keep them afloat.
The next tip Aris recommends is to establish rules while aboard a vessel. The excitement of being on a boat can flood a child’s behavior.
“Having established a few rules ahead of time can help get control of a child’s hyperactive,” said Aris. “It can help keep a good vibe on the boat and stop any drama from happening. Of course, it could be different rules depending on the type and speed of the boat, but I think it’s very critical to have rules laid out ahead of time so that everything they are doing, they understand their boundaries.”
Freedomboatclub.com confirms this second tip in an article about toddler boating safety tips. Tips include reminding children to stay seated while the boat is moving, never to hang their feet off the boat, and to remain quiet during the docking process.
“Establish rules just like anywhere else you go with a toddler,” said Aris. “Having specific rules in place while on the boat is key. Remind them to stay seated while the boat is moving, have them keep all arms and legs on the boat, and stay quiet. Expect that they will act the same way they do at home.”
The third tip provided by Aris is to dress a child when they are on board appropriately.
“Humans are not made to be on moving ground, and especially when you’re young and learning to balance,” said Aris.
Aris has created pants for toddlers with padding in the knees and the butt. Using technology often used in motorcycle attire, the pants offer an extra cushion for wobbly toddlers. Slip-resistant shoes are another strong option when keeping toddlers upright on a boat.
Native Shoes is a shoe company that offers good options for waterproof, slip-resistant shoes for go-getter toddlers. The grippy shoes are lined with holes to let water escape the shoe while holding traction.
Aris also recommends that a child wear a pair of sunglasses, a hat, and sunblock to protect from sun exposure.
The last tip offered by Aris is to have a member on board that is CPR certified and qualified to navigate an emergency.
“It’s lifesaving if something were to happen, and it also will help the confidence of everyone else on board,” said Aris. “It has a ripple effect, if something were to happen, we would know what to do, and you can be efficient, and you can save a life. When you have to take kids on the water, it provides ease when someone knows how to execute dangerous situations.”
The U.S. Coast Guard has made a boating safety checklist that is available to be downloaded for free in addition to an equipment and departure checklist. The checklist includes:
- Inspecting life jackets.
- Explaining the different markers and symbols throughout the boat.
- Offering safety and survival tips if a crash were to occur.
For more information on Aris’s padded pants and child safety advice while boating, visit sandraaris.com.
First published on