If you are a parent it is easy to understand why you might be very nervous about the prospect of introducing your child to a water sport where they are going to get wet as part of the learning curve, but if you give them a good safety grounding it can make a big difference.
Here are some tips to help teach your kids all about canoes and kayaks plus some safety pointers to reduce the risk and give them the right level of confidence. Including why you need to choose your PFD with care, why where they seat in the boat matters, plus a tip to make modest route plans in the beginning.
Keeping their head above water
In just the same way that you might take the trouble to choose a vehicle like the Jeep Patriot so that you have a vehicle that does everything you want it to, it is even more important that you make the right choice when selecting their personal flotation device (PFD).
It is vital that you fit your child with a PFD that is specifically sized to their weight and does the job properly of keeping their head above the water when they end up in the river.
Don’t be tempted to buy a PFD that is a size up from what they need right now so that you get as much use out of your investment as possible. You wouldn’t knowingly take risks with your child’s safety so fit them up properly and change the device as regularly as needed in line with their growth.
The right seating configuration
If you are riding the river in a family-sized kayak and you have infants on board you will need to think about where you seat them to be as safe as possible.
Small children should always be seated so that they are within easy reach of an adult. As they get older you can promote to a more central position in the boat, especially when they are ready to hold a paddle and help.
Another tip to remember is to tie their paddle to the boat but not the child, as this could create a dangerous situation if the boat manages to flip over.
Build the distance up
You might want to make your trip an adventure they will remember but it makes a lot of sense to take some small baby steps and build up to a longer journey, especially if you have young ones on board.
Pick a short float, to begin with. An easy stretch of water that is no more than about three miles long will be just about right for getting their confidence up and getting them used to the sort of challenges they face on the water.
If things go a bit pear-shaped, the kids get tired, or anything else happens that means you want to head to dry land in a hurry, you will be glad that you weren’t too ambitious with your route plans.
Finally, try to keep calm if you want to keep the boat upright. Erratic movements and a sense of panic are going to massively increase the odds of capsizing, so exude calm and hopefully, the kids will follow your lead.