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Water Safety: Guidelines for Safe Boating and Water Activities with Children

Summer is here, and families are ready to dive into water activities. Whether it's a day at the beach, a lake trip, or boating adventures, water fun is a great way to bond and stay cool. However, safety should always be the priority, especially when children are involved. Here are comprehensive guidelines to ensure safe boating and water activities with your little ones.

1. Life Jackets Are Non-Negotiable

  • Proper Fit: Ensure that life jackets fit children snugly and are appropriate for their weight and age. The U.S. Coast Guard provides specific guidelines on fitting and requirements.

  • Always Wear: Children should wear life jackets at all times when near or on the water, even if they are good swimmers.

2. Supervision Is Key

  • Constant Vigilance: Always have a designated adult watching the children. Drowning can happen quickly and silently.

  • Within Arm's Reach: For younger children and weak swimmers, an adult should be within arm’s reach.

3. Teach Water Safety Skills

  • Swimming Lessons: Enroll children in swimming lessons to help them become confident and capable swimmers.

  • Water Rules: Educate children on important water safety rules such as not swimming alone, staying close to the shore, and what to do if they get tired or find themselves in trouble.

4. Boating Safety Measures

  • Pre-Departure Checklist: Check weather conditions, inform someone of your boating plan, and ensure the boat is in good condition.

  • Safety Equipment: Carry essential safety equipment like a first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, whistle, and flares.

  • Rules and Etiquette: Teach children basic boating rules and etiquette, including staying seated and keeping hands inside the boat.

5. Be Weather-Wise

  • Weather Updates: Continuously monitor the weather forecast and be prepared to head to shore if conditions worsen.

  • Shelter Plans: Have a plan for immediate shelter in case of sudden weather changes.

6. Hydration and Sun Protection

  • Stay Hydrated: Ensure children drink plenty of water, especially when spending extended periods in the sun.

  • Sun Protection: Use waterproof sunscreen, reapply it regularly, and provide hats and UV-protective clothing.

7. Emergency Preparedness

  • CPR Training: At least one adult should be trained in CPR and basic first aid.

  • Emergency Contacts: Have a list of emergency contacts and the nearest medical facilities.

8. Avoid Alcohol

  • Stay Sober: Adults should avoid consuming alcohol while supervising children in and around water. Impairment can delay reaction times and affect judgment.

9. Safe Diving Practices

  • Check Depth: Ensure the water is deep enough before allowing diving. Teach children to always enter feet first.

  • No Diving Zones: Clearly mark and communicate areas where diving is prohibited.

10. Establish a Buddy System

  • Buddy Up: Ensure children always swim with a buddy. The buddy system adds an extra layer of security.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your family enjoys the water safely. Remember, a fun day on the water starts with safety first!


  1. American Red Cross. (2023). Water Safety for Kids.

  2. U.S. Coast Guard. (2023). Life Jacket Requirements.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2022). Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts.

  4. Safe Kids Worldwide. (2023). Water Safety Tips.

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