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Old 01-08-2013, 10:53   #1
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Safety Gear for Children

As we are in the very early stages of preparing to cruise with our two young girls, we are starting to make a list of all the items/things that we need. We plan on leaving in 3 years and cruising down the coast from Beaufort, SC and then to the Bahamas. When sailing with two young children (3 and 4 years old) what additional safety gear should we be adding to our list? Any recommendations for life jackets?
Laura
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:20   #2
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Re: Safety Gear for Children

Lifeline netting.
I feel the most important thing with lifejackets is comfort.... make sure they are comfortable and are on at all times even docked. Just get them used to wearing them. Ones with a handle on the back would be very nice to haul them back aboard.
Remember, you are like a parent surrounded by a swimming pool.... 5 minutes of inattention even at anchor in flat water is all it takes for a disaster... if they take wearing them as "just what I do" it can save them.... I've seen kids so used to wearing them they refuse to go anywhere without it!
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:35   #3
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Re: Safety Gear for Children

They do know how to swim?

It's not only the gear, it's the education about safety first.

My two kids sailed with us all the time they were growing up from handheld to toddlers to adults. Haven't lost one yet.

YOU set the examples.

We have two simple rules:

One hand for yourself, one for the boat.

Please do what I say when I say it, aks any questions later.

Works just as well for adults.

Good luck, have a great cruise.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:39   #4
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Re: Safety Gear for Children

Even if you insist on 24/7 lifejacket use, be aware that if you fail to be constantly attentive they can be carried away by a tidal current very quickly. I only put jackets on the kids when the law requires; every time they've fallen in has been without jackets, and I've always been right there to pull them out. Constant vigilance is your only safety, and is far safer than any amount of gear. I eschew lifeline netting, but don't allow them out of the cockpit when underway, unless it's calm. Also, teach them to swim. Our youngest, who is now 4, could swim when she was almost 3.
It helps a lot if you teach them to obey; I could not travel with children who disregarded commands, especially ones to get inside quickly or not to leave the cockpit/companionway/cabin, wherever. Obedience is the hardest thing to teach, but reaps the biggest rewards, not only in safety but in ease of mind.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:24   #5
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Re: Safety Gear for Children

We have a three year old and a six month old. The stuff that can hurt and kill is pretty varied. We know someone who's child got a traumatic brain injury by running on the dock, tripping, and in less time than the parents could get to them the boat crushed the kid's skull against the dock.

I bring that up only because much of the concern revolves around PFD's and life line netting which although relevant hardly addresses the plethora of challenges we've encountered or heard from others.

Honestly the best thing you can do is be good sailors and have the boat under control. The less you have to focus on the boat the more you can parent.
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Old 02-08-2013, 05:54   #6
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Re: Safety Gear for Children

I don't know how to swim. Please give some tips so that it will be easier for me.
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Old 02-08-2013, 05:57   #7
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Re: Safety Gear for Children

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Originally Posted by marrythomas View Post
I don't know how to swim. Please give some tips so that it will be easier for me.
Just go for it .
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:00   #8
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Re: Safety Gear for Children

In regard to the kids, I suggest you pretend you are 2 or 3 foot tall and identify (and adapt) whatever is at head height, especially down below.

If going down the lifejacket route the best way is to lead by example, and a bit of BS by making it a "grown up" and proper sailor thing to have and to wear, possibly with a special buying trip thrown in.
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Old 02-08-2013, 07:17   #9
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Re: Safety Gear for Children

Thanks for all the tips. Making sure they know how to swim will be one of the first things we teach them. They are currently 2 month and 17 months so they have not learned yet. We currently have a Catalina 25 which we hope to start getting out on more, so they start to feel comfortable on the water. Making solid rules about lifejackets will be something we need to start immediately. Our 17 month old is not very keen on wearing it but I don’t think we have the right jacket. Making a big deal about going to the store to buy her a special jacket is a good idea. And I agree making sure we feel confident with our boat is one of the most important safety factors for our girls.
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Old 02-08-2013, 09:44   #10
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Re: Safety Gear for Children

Just to say that whilst no long distance "cruising", as a kid I grew up messing around on boats - including stays aboard for multiple months in France during the summer......I never learnt to swim! (at least not more than 10 yards!!), but I am very comfortable in water (of any depth) - just very conscious of not falling in, and when jumping in being sure before hand that I can either get out on my own or there is something bouyant to hang onto (dinghy or lifering or have a wetsuit on)........I am also an Advanced PADI scuba diver, but if you pay the course fees they would certify a lawnmower .

Nonetheless I would teach your kids to swim, my Father couldn't so passed on that (non) skill!!........me no kids, but if I had any likely I wouldn't have them as foredeck crew sail handling (pre roller furling!) from the age of 9 or 10, and if I did I might at least equip them with a lifejacket or a harness (or both!).....but to be fair when you are kid you are way more nimble on the foredeck than an adult (lower CofG, less weight to hurt self with and everything to hold onto is closer!).....and not being able to swim does teach you not to fall in, and that one hand for the boat is essential.......the good news is kids just soak up boat stuff and when older things become second nature, and you do develop an inherent sea sense of right, wrong and yikes! (even without knowing exactly why!)......don't automatically mean that kids grow up to be great sailors (I didn't!), but at least when they do dumb stuff they will likely know beforehand!

errrr, I think most of that was an amble down memory lane for me rather than much use to you!, but it's written now .
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Old 02-08-2013, 19:11   #11
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Re: Safety Gear for Children

haha.....still very helpful information! I believe you are right about kids soaking in information, so I'm hoping that holds true as our girls grow up. I think getting them around the boat and water as early as possible will be key.
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Old 02-08-2013, 20:04   #12
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Re: Safety Gear for Children

I think the bit about being able to swim at 2 or whatever is a little overly optimistic. We've been getting the kids in and out of the dinghy in heavy chop with 4 knot current, the ladder splashing around as the boat rolls and pitches. A two year old "swimmer" really isn't going to do anything but drown in conditions like that.

I'm not trying to say don't teach kids to swim early, obviously the earlier the better and the sooner they'll be proficient. But no matter what you do a five year old is a five year old. That's true for swimming, being on the deck, being around lines under load, etc.

We're super strict with our kids because if they don't listen to us they really can get killed; it's no joke. If we say to do something they have to do it immediately.
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Old 02-08-2013, 20:08   #13
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Re: Safety Gear for Children

Quote:
Originally Posted by awaywego View Post
As we are in the very early stages of preparing to cruise with our two young girls, we are starting to make a list of all the items/things that we need. We plan on leaving in 3 years and cruising down the coast from Beaufort, SC and then to the Bahamas. When sailing with two young children (3 and 4 years old) what additional safety gear should we be adding to our list? Any recommendations for life jackets?
Laura

For a child it's especially important to have a life jacket that will hold them face up in the water, and a crotch strap is important.

Personally I think safety netting is an absolute must.
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Old 02-08-2013, 20:10   #14
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Re: Safety Gear for Children

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Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
We have a three year old and a six month old. The stuff that can hurt and kill is pretty varied. We know someone who's child got a traumatic brain injury by running on the dock, tripping, and in less time than the parents could get to them the boat crushed the kid's skull against the dock.

I bring that up only because much of the concern revolves around PFD's and life line netting which although relevant hardly addresses the plethora of challenges we've encountered or heard from others.

Honestly the best thing you can do is be good sailors and have the boat under control. The less you have to focus on the boat the more you can parent.

What an awful tragedy, but you make a really important point: one of the most dangerous places is when the boat is at the dock, and you are likely to be very easily distracted while at the dock, getting tied up, or loading or unloading, etc.
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Old 02-08-2013, 20:13   #15
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Re: Safety Gear for Children

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Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
Just to say that whilst no long distance "cruising", as a kid I grew up messing around on boats - including stays aboard for multiple months in France during the summer......I never learnt to swim! (at least not more than 10 yards!!), but I am very comfortable in water (of any depth) - just very conscious of not falling in, and when jumping in being sure before hand that I can either get out on my own or there is something bouyant to hang onto (dinghy or lifering or have a wetsuit on)........I am also an Advanced PADI scuba diver, but if you pay the course fees they would certify a lawnmower .

Nonetheless I would teach your kids to swim, my Father couldn't so passed on that (non) skill!!........me no kids, but if I had any likely I wouldn't have them as foredeck crew sail handling (pre roller furling!) from the age of 9 or 10, and if I did I might at least equip them with a lifejacket or a harness (or both!).....but to be fair when you are kid you are way more nimble on the foredeck than an adult (lower CofG, less weight to hurt self with and everything to hold onto is closer!).....and not being able to swim does teach you not to fall in, and that one hand for the boat is essential.......the good news is kids just soak up boat stuff and when older things become second nature, and you do develop an inherent sea sense of right, wrong and yikes! (even without knowing exactly why!)......don't automatically mean that kids grow up to be great sailors (I didn't!), but at least when they do dumb stuff they will likely know beforehand!

errrr, I think most of that was an amble down memory lane for me rather than much use to you!, but it's written now .

I think it's fine that you survived. I survived riding a bicycle without a helmet, too, but my husband's cousin -- and his best friend -- was killed when he was nine for lack of one. No one wore them then, of course.

Not knowing how to swim does not "teach you not to fall in." Having a life jacket may keep you from dying over it, however.
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