Boating is perhaps the ideal family activity. Out on a boat, kids are introduced to the wonders of the outdoors. They feel a sense of adventure cruising over the water or exploring the coastline. They experience the excitement of watersports, or the thrill that comes with catching a fish. They get to enjoy and appreciate the sunshine, fresh air, and the fun of finding a swimming hole or picnicking on a secluded beach.

Of course, boating with kids is not without its challenges. From excited, reckless playing to full-blown meltdowns, children can make a day of boating highly unpredictable. However, with proper planning, you can ensure a day spent boating with your kids is both safe and fun for everyone. Here are a few tips to help you do that.

  • Set rules. Make sure your children are aware of hazards on a boat, such as how slippery and unstable a boat can be. Then set rules such as no running onboard, no draping feet over the bow and more.
  • Have everyone wear PFDs. While you know it’s important for your kids to wear PFDs, it’s also important for you to wear one. You’re not only setting a good example, but keeping yourself safe will also help you keep them safe.
  • Pack sunscreen and bug repellant. Your kids won’t have fun if they’re being cooked by the sun or eaten by bugs. So make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and bug repellant.
  • Have a first aid kit. Kids have a way of getting scrapes, cuts, bumps and bruises. So you should always have a first aid kit onboard your boat to handle injuries.
  • Prepare for the weather. Coastal weather can be unpredictable, and if your children are cold or wet, they’re going to be uncomfortable and unhappy. Make sure to pack sweatshirts and rain gear. Also pack your kids a change of clothes in case they do get wet or even spill lunch on themselves.
  • Pack lots of food and drinks. If your kids are hungry or thirsty, they aren’t going to have fun. Be sure to have lots of snacks and drinks onboard. You might also want to pack special treats to reinforce that boating is fun.