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Kids and Canoe Safety

A canoeing trip for the entire family is a great way to spend a lazy summer afternoon. Before packing up and heading to the nearest river, however, give some thought to preparing your kids for this special adventure to make sure they have a safe, fun time. Like adults, they could benefit from special coaching or preparation before boarding a livery or family canoe and pushing out into a rushing stream.

Make sure your kids know how to swim. Hopefully they have taken lessons and received basic swimmers’ certifications up to this point. If not, you will need to keep a eye on them to be sure they don’t fall in the water.

Check their safety equipment. Are the lifejackets inflated properly? Do kids know how to use them or other life-preserving equipment if needed? Take a few minutes to show the proper use of these items so kids won’t get confused or overwhelmed in the event of an accident.

Take along sunscreen and sunglasses. Kids’ skin and eyes are more delicate than those of adults, so it is important to protect them from sunburn or eye damage, especially if you will be in the water for a couple of hours or longer. Have them apply sunscreen right before boarding the canoe. Apply it again each hour afterward. A cap with a beak to help deflect the sun’s rays from children’s faces is another helpful idea.

Bring a bottle of water and perhaps a snack. This will keep young children from clamoring for the ride to be over so they can get something to eat. You can put these items in a tote bag, or stash them under the canoe seat, but try to keep the kids from eating them until later in the trip, as a snack will give them something to look forward to.

Have them visit the restrooms before getting in the canoe. Splashing water can make little ones want to go to the bathroom. Simply being in the boat for a couple of hours can make it difficult for them to hold out. Since there is no way to use the bathroom on a canoe, make sure they visit the restroom right before boarding.

Teach them water safety. Don’t let the kids horseplay in the canoe by splashing each other with the oars, standing up in the boat, leaning too far over the side, or making gestures t passing boaters. Navigating a body of water requires careful attention and respect for the passage and for others. Kids need to learn early in life how to navigate a canoe trip so they will be able to take more such trips in the future and perhaps manage the canoe on their own someday.

Learn how to paddle your own canoe by visiting The Canoe Spot