In some ways, the pleasure of riding in a boat can bring out the kid in all of us. Children are naturally drawn to water and riding in a boat is undeniably fun. Owners and operators of boats who plan to take children aboard still need to think carefully about how to best keep their little passengers safe during the trip. Here are a few basic principles:
Comply with floatation device requirements.
In Nevada every boat must carry life jackets that comply with U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) guidelines for personal flotation devices (PFDs). There are a number of specific rules for PFDs.
- Every boat must carry at least one life jacket per passenger. Larger vessels (16 feet or larger) must carry additional floatation equipment. When considering whether sufficient PFDs are on board, take into account the size requirements of different passengers. Children and infants have very different sizing and fit requirements when compared to adults.
- Children under 13 years of age are required to wear a PFD at all times while a vessel is underway unless the child is fully confined inside the boat. A child may not need to wear a life jacket while below deck on a sail boat, but would need to wear one on a power boat with only a partial enclosure.
- Life jackets need to be in good condition. If a life jacket has a damaged buckle or frayed material it should be replaced.
- Life jackets must be legibly marked with the applicable USCG approval number.
- PFDs must be accessible, which means that it is being worn or can be reached and is ready to wear. A life jacket that’s kept in a box, especially if the box is locked, doesn’t meet this requirement.
Know your passengers.
Take a moment to find out how much experience your young passengers have with boats. Children who have never ridden on a boat before probably don’t know what to expect if, for example, the boat hits waves while under power. Know whether your passengers can swim so that you can anticipate the kind of intervention that might be required in an emergency.
Talk about boat safety.
Children should be taught how to respond in the event of an emergency on the water. In a real emergency, such as if the boat flips over or the child falls overboard, an adult may not be able to reach the child right away. Especially on boats that are prone to tipping (canoes, sail boats) it’s important to teach children to stay with the boat in the event of a capsize. Have a plan if the child falls overboard. Ideally, the child has spent time in the water wearing a lifejacket, so he or she knows what to expect.
GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm
For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. If you have been injured in a boating accident we are happy to discuss your case with you. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.