As summer approaches, many families look forward to more time on the water together.The fun might include boating and other watersports, such as tubing, skiing, or wakeboarding. Preparation and education are the keys to a safe and successful day on the water. So get the summer off to a great start by making sure passengers of all ages have well-fitted lifejackets and understand safety procedures.
When fitting a child’s lifejacket, be sure to select the current size. Don’t put a child in an adult lifejacket or buy one in a larger size for a child to grow into. Rather, put the jacket on the child and buckle and secure all straps. Then lift the child’s arm up over his or her head and pull up on the jacket. If it slips off, it’s too big.BoatUS offers a helpful video to show correct fit on their website, BoatUS.org/fit-video.
If you don’t own a lifejacket and aren’t prepared to buy one, borrow one from a friend or neighbor, or borrow one for free through the BoatUS Foundation Kids Life Jacket Loaner program. Find information about their 550 locations at BoatUS.org/life-jacket-loaner.
Be sure a child or anyone else riding behind a boat not only wears a lifejacket, but also knows the hand signals to communicate with the boat driver while being towed.The following hand signals and rules of the water will ensure that everyone has fun and stays safe:
If the speed is right, use an OK sign with your thumb and first finger.
If you want the driver to go faster, use a thumbs up; to slow down, use a thumbs down; and use a slashing motion across your neck to stop.
If you fall off, raise both arms above your head and clasp your hands as soon as possible to let the boat driver know you are okay. Find more signals at BoatUS.com/hand-signals.
While waiting in the water, ready to be pulled or towed again, be patient and allow the boat captain a little time to safely deliver the towline or tube to you.
If you decide to come back aboard, the driver will allow the boat to drift to you with the engine off. When reboarding, use a step, deck, or boarding ladder only after the boat driver has signaled that it is safe to get back in the boat.
Never swim near a boat while the engine is on.Visit BoatUS.org for more information about staying safe on the water this summer. Stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, and have fun!