It’s hard sometimes to convince young children to wear safety gear – especially if it’s not comfy or a little bulky. There you are, trying to bargain with a five year old on the pontoon whilst also trying to get your boat ready to go out. As we all know – reasoning with a five year old is never going to work! You know that you’re not going until the issue is sorted….but quite frankly this is not a major concern of the small person!
The major concern is that the life jacket fits correctly. The RNLI give clear and directive information for doing this – and it’s something that needs to be correct. However, children may have other ideas. The RNLI Sea Safety guide is a must read.
One way of helping the situation can be to get their favourite teddy or doll dressed up ready to sail as well. Don’t worry, you don’t need to produce a full life jacket in the style of a Blue Peter make – something cut out of an old flannel or piece of robust fabric will do just fine. The RNLI sell several Teddies if you’d like to support them – but it’s about the dressing process rather than the actual item so don’t worry if our Teddy doesn’t look quite as smart as this. Once you have a Teddy size life jacket you can then share the duty of getting little one and teddy ready at the same time. It can become a game or fun race to see who gets themselves kitted up first. But remember, what you’re doing is encouraging your child to consider safety as part of the whole sailing or boating experience. If they start from when they’re young, then the process of boat preparation (including personal safety) will become engrained and second nature as they grow up. Our children (now rather bigger!) don’t question whether or not to wear their life jackets…they just go and get them and put them on as part of preparing the boat. In the same way we put on safty belts in cars – life jackets can become a routine action.
For more general information on fitting life jackets go to http://rnli.org/safety/respect-the-water/activities/Documents/13-618-LeisLifejacketLeaflet-LR.pdf
“If Pip wears a life jacket…then so do you! “