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Old 10-10-2010, 10:10 PM   #1
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Life Jackets for Kids

Since you all have been so helpful in my boat search I have another question...I have an almost 2 year old daughter who will be coming onboard. I will arrange the cabin so that she cannot escape but when on deck I will want her in a life jacket. She has been fine in various life jackets at water parks, but since she will be wearing it for fairly long periods I wonder if there are any recommendations as to life jackets for little kids?
Thanks!
Aaron
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Old 10-11-2010, 12:43 AM   #2
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Life Jackets for Kids

I don't think it's safe to take toddlers on boats unless an adult holds onto them at all times, even in the cabin.* For little people with*little upright, walking experience, a rolling, pitching boat is a great challenge.* If I did take one aboard, I'd have*her in a safety harness with a line attached to the boat.

Actually, I don't want the liability/responsibility/regret/heartache.* No toddlers on my boat.

-- Edited by markpierce on Monday 11th of October 2010 12:45:10 AM
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Old 10-11-2010, 07:32 AM   #3
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Life Jackets for Kids

Aaron,
Our kids are now 8 and almost 7 and they have grown up boating since they were babies. It can be done if you are very aware and take things slow and don't try to do too much in one day.

The biggest thing for us regarding lifejackets was to make sure we only used lifejackets with NO floatation in the back and only floatation in the front. Otherwise, at 2 years old, heaven forbid they fell in, floatation in the back could force them to be stuck face down in the water. Additionally, we made sure we used the ones with the big neck strap in the back that would have allowed us to pick them up should they fall in. Luckily, we never had to use it as they never fell in when that young but it is best to have all the safetty features. I never understand why parents bring out their little ones with the full lifejackets with floatation in the back that could actually cause their child to drown!

These weren't on the market even just a couple of years ago but for small infants I'd be getting one of these...same style I mentioned above but made for real little ones:

http://www.overtons.com/modperl/prod...t&merchID=4005


Here is a picture of our son on my dad's deck boat back when he was very young- same type of lifejacket in the link above but without the fabric going around their bottom- ours just had a strap:


The scary thing is that little dude is now 8! Time sure flies but I am so grateful our children have been growing up on the water and their childhood will be filled with memories of weekends anchored out with mom and dad and us all swimming together, laughing, and having fun. Don't let their young age keep you all from going out on the water. Lots of my friends have sold their boats due to their kids being "too young." I would argue that having them on the water when they are young is the best possible time to be on the water. I know the day will come when our children won't think it's so very fun to spend an entire weekend with just mom and dad and schedules will get more complicated so I truly cherish our time with them while we still have them little.

The other bit of advice I'd offer is make sure you can single hand your vessel without assistance needed from your wife. When our kids were real little, my wife would take the kids in the cabin when it was time to dock, etc. so that they would not cause distractions or anything and she would keep an eye on them while I handled all docking maneuvers and line handling myself. This worked very good for us. *

So keep getting those kids out on the water- I am convinced it is about the best thing you can do together as a family!

-- Edited by Woodsong on Monday 11th of October 2010 07:36:22 AM
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Old 10-11-2010, 02:48 PM   #4
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RE: Life Jackets for Kids

Quote:
aaronupnorth wrote:

Since you all have been so helpful in my boat search I have another question...
I have an almost 2 year old daughter who will be coming onboard. I will arrange the cabin so that she cannot escape but when on deck I will want her in a life jacket. She has been fine in various life jackets at water parks, but since she will be wearing it for fairly long periods I wonder if there are any recommendations as to life jackets for little kids?
Thanks!
Aaron
We have boated a lot with freinds kids-- you definitely want her PFD to have a grab loop on the back and she MUST wear it before you even walk down the dock and whenever on deck on the boat (or maybe that is just California law but anyway the habit really helps cut the whining and arguing).* I have to agree that until she is old enough to have boat legs and entertain herself in the cabin she needs to be supervised in there and you WILL want someone watching her when you are trying to dock, etc, as mentioned.

Two stories for you:

Guy in our marina took his ~6 yo daughter out on his 45' carver.* When he came back in left her sitting on the couch down below and went to drive from the flybridge.* He could NOT get the boat in the slip, there was some problem with his steerage.* He*called some friends over from their boats to grab his lines and manhandle him in.* His daughter heard the commotion and popped her head out.* Suddenly the boat steered fine again???* Come to find out she had been turning the wheel at the lower helm while he was trying to dock.*

We took a bunch of people out on our new boat over labor day.* My two nieces, 7 and 9 came along.* They go out all the time on their dad's sailboat and they know they are not allowed on deck without a PFD.* The younger one did not want to wear hers so she was down below and nobody was with her.**One time I walked in she was gone.* She came up from the master state room just as I was beginning to worry!* I checked the head later and she had put about half a roll of TP in the*pot!* Luckily she did not know how to flush the head so it was dry and*easy**to get the TP out.* I can't imagine what all that TP would do to my pipes and my tiny 9 gallon holding tank!*

Kids and boating can be tons of fun, just keep an eye on the kids!

*
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Old 10-11-2010, 03:12 PM   #5
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RE: Life Jackets for Kids

Our kids boated from -9 months old. Each had a PFD that was designed to float them upright or on their back, and was sized appropriately. The PFDs all worked. Each kid fell in the water once and once only. That sudden cold didn't need to happen a second time and each kid was much more careful after falling in. That was at 2 1/2 or 3 yrs old for each of them. They also had a "docking spot" which after the first time, they stayed in until told they could leave it. It wasn't down below, but was up in the cockpit (sailboats) where we could still keep an eye on them, but out of the way.
Each has (independently) told us that growing up boating was the best! each has friends who have come boating with us, all of those friends agree that our kids were the luckiest to have those experiences. Each is striving towards getting their own boat and continuing the cycle.
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Old 10-11-2010, 03:26 PM   #6
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RE: Life Jackets for Kids

When our little one was little..., we put up the safety netting all around the boat railings. The PFD was always on, but the extra security of the netting also gave us a a little extra security. He is now 26 and using our boat on weekends in Houston while we await some repairs before we bring her home to Dauphin Island next month. Check out the netting.
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Old 10-11-2010, 10:46 PM   #7
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RE: Life Jackets for Kids

Mark: "I don't think it's safe to take toddlers on boats"
Mark, it is unsafe to take toddlers anywhere, they are the craziest most unpredictable people on earth. The problem is that they don't learn how to be safe responsible humans in a bubble. I can say it is far more difficult than I ever thought it would be to navigate the balance between providing a perfectly safe environment and providing a world her to learn and explore in.

Thanks all again for your advice, most helpful! I definitely need to have a jacket she will be comfortable in all day. In terms of our boat search I have really narrowed to vessels I can handle solo (or my wife can handle solo) while the other watches our daughter. So...that has lead me to look at a lot of dual engine boats, cockpits with high surrounding freeboard and some non trawler boats (maybe shouldn't admit that here), since with a small kiddo it may make more sense to have something a little faster to allow more frequent shorter trips.

Anyways, thanks!!
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Old 10-12-2010, 01:12 AM   #8
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RE: Life Jackets for Kids

Quote:
aaronupnorth wrote:

...* Mark, it is unsafe to take toddlers anywhere, they are the craziest most unpredictable people on earth.
I know, having raised two.* The "trouble" with one was that he was fearless.* A fearless child is hair raising/losing.* Fortunately, he has reached adulthood.

*
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Old 10-12-2010, 04:35 AM   #9
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RE: Life Jackets for Kids

I echo the sentiments of the value of taking your kids out boating young. They do yield some of the most precious and treasured family moments of togetherness. Of course there are other dangers/fears kids can have when boating other than maybe falling in. True story. When we obtained our first vessel, a 20 ft trailer yacht, (called Princess Leia - wonder why), it was not long after there had been on the TV news, the story of how the crew of a yacht returning to Auckland after taking part in the Auckland to Suva race, the name of which was 'Snow White', had it hit a whale, (they collided with it in the dark - the whale did not attack it, I hasten to add, in view of an earlier thread), and the yacht was badly damaged enough it sank. The crew of seven (true) were all rescued by NZ Air Rescue Services, after sending a mayday and activating their EPIRB, in an amazingly straightforward manner, and the news header next day naturally read, "Snow White's seven dwarves all safely at home after copybook rescue, following whale sinking their boat."
Well, our first day's sailing went very well, but we had noticed our 5 yr old seemed more subdued than usual, sitting there in his life jacket looking a bit pale and very serious all day, unlike out 3 yr old who was having a ball. All became clear when on returning to the ramp 5 yr old announced loudly, "Well that was good Dad, and thank goodness we dodged any whales out there!" We all fell about laughing, then realised just how brave the wee tyke had actually been, because he had heard the report and genuinely believed a sinking possible, even though we were just out in the bay off Napier, but he had not voiced his concern at all.
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Old 10-12-2010, 09:53 AM   #10
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RE: Life Jackets for Kids

Aaron, *

Good advice abounds here concerning the use of PFDs for the kids, but I can't second Pineapple Girl's advice strong enough. The loop on the PFD obviously makes retrieval a LOT easier, without the little one slipping out. *But paramount is the wearing of PFDs for all small children while on the docks-always!


I can't tell you the number of times each summer that I see small children walking/running down the docks with their guardians several feet away. *These same parents would never think of allowing their kids to run in a parking lot, but for some reason, once they're on a dock, they feel the kids are safe! I'm working with the port here to institute a program where there are vests available for kids prior to walking down the gangway to the dock, but when money's involved it's an uphill battle.


Last year, after a nice two hour cruise, I tied up and helped a friend and his two four year olds off the boat. *They all walked down the dock while I finished securing the boat. *I looked over and saw my friend fifty feet down the dock, on his knees. *I thought he may have fallen, as he's a big guy and normally wouldn't be down like that. *I ran over in time to see him fishing out one of the four year olds from the drink! The tyke tried to run around his dad and ran right off the dock and into the water!


The kids wear PFDs from the parking lot until they get back to the parking lot so the only issue was drying off the child's clothes before getting home to explain to Momma what happened! Without the PFDs....well maybe not so*fortunate.


Anyway, that's my two cents.




Mike
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Old 10-12-2010, 08:22 PM   #11
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RE: Life Jackets for Kids

I agree- until children are old enough to swim well and tread water for at least a few minutes unassisted, it is critical they wear their PFD's on the dock as well as on the boat!

One of the biggest things you can do to assure safety of your child beyond the PFD is selecting a boat design that lends itself to safety. Our Monk 36 that we just bought 2 months or so ago is a good fit for us now but really, 2 years ago, I'd not have bought this boat due to the young age of our children. With little ones, the fewer the steps the better, wider the side decks the better, limited points of ingress/egress that can be watched the better, etc. So the first step to safety before even getting your child a PFD is to pick the right boat that fits your child's young age. More than likely a traditional trawler style boat like a grand banks or like our current Monk 36 is not going to be that boat. Any boat can be made safe, but really...the hardwood floors throughout, steep steps to the forward stateroom, the multiple steps required to go from side decks to the trunk deck to the bridge deck....LOTS of opportunities for a child to get hurt. I would seriously look hard at a cockpit style cruiser, either trawler or a sedan, so that most everything is on one level only for the safest passage possibe. You'll find over time that as your daughter gets older it opens up other design types/styles...such as us being able to very safely use and enjoy our traditional style trawler since the kids are old enough to handle it.
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Old 11-20-2010, 03:09 PM   #12
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RE: Life Jackets for Kids

Just a quick follow-up in case anyone else is looking for pfds for kiddos....
We wnt with a neoprene speedo pfd (http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/brows....jsp?locale=en) My daughter loves it and wears it around the house (ie it won't be hard to make her wear it).
Interestingly this model is approved in Canada but I think not CG approved in the US for some reason, so probably only of interest in the north....
Aaron
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Old 11-21-2010, 03:38 PM   #13
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RE: Life Jackets for Kids

I would echo all of the comments about the wisdom of requiring a child to wear a COMFORTABLE life jacket on deck or on the dock. If they are forced to wear a straight jacket, they will not enjoy the experience. All our kids (3) grew up on boats, our son was last in line but started younger, less than a year. Once he started walking, we put him in a harness with a 6 ft tether. I would tie him to a hand hold at the helm and he had the run of the cockpit, until he reached the end of his rope (sometimes shortly after my wife and I had reached the end of ours!). The length of the tether kept him well within the confines of the boat, I did not want to troll with him as bait (considered it when he was 16 but that is another story). When he went below, I would untie him and he could roam the cabin, only one exit and that was at the helm. Still we kept an eye on him. This was when we had a 25 Grady with a cuddy cabin so the space was more confined than a trawler. My wife and I still turn green when we remember a trip from Solomons to Deltaville in seas that forced us to proced at trawler speed, Will was below playing with his trucks on the dinette, happy as a clam. Just watching him down there with the vehicles rolling 1st one way and then the other was enough to send one to the rail. Probably one reason he is a yacht broker today.Bill Noftsinger
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