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Kids On Board

Kids On Board

The Gold Coast is a boating paradise which can be enjoyed by all members of the family. Here are 5 safety reminders to enjoy boating with family.


Every boater agrees having kids of all ages on board makes a great family event. They enjoy the fresh air, sights, adventure and love being involved in the boating experience. Including the kids and giving them important jobs while getting organised and being on the water is a great way for them to grasp the importance of safety.

As a family, we all want things to be fun and safe on each trip. “Teaching and ensuring safety for our kids is definitely one of the most important things we need to remember,” says a representative of the Gold Coast Water Police.

Following the below safety tips will help keep our kids safe, while also enjoying their boat trip.

Life Jackets

Life jackets (or personal flotation device, PFD) are the most important piece of safety equipment on a boat. Their condition should be checked regularly, as they are frequently exposed to the heat, sun and salt. It is compulsory for kids under 12 years of age to wear a life jacket at all times on a vessel under 4.8 metres. Infants under 12 months of age must be held securely by a responsible adult.

The Gold Coast Water Police advises, “An appropriate life jacket should be suited to the child’s weight and size, fit snuggly and comfortably.” Small children should have a crotch strap that is used at all times.

S-E-S (Supervise-Entertain-Shore Time)

Kids require adult supervision at all times while on the boat, even if wearing life jackets and irrespective of their swimming experience. It can take a split second for your child to fall overboard so you must always know where your kids are.

Keep kids entertained with activities like swimming, bird spotting, stories and possibly board games for the evening. Schedule enough time off the boat to enjoy sights, relax and respite.


It is important for kids to know survival techniques in the water and know what to do should they fall overboard. Knowing how to tread water, float and not panic is an extremely important survival skill.

Protection from the Weather

Slip-slop-slap—always. Lightweight and light coloured clothing should be worn, including a hat. To prevent windburn, cover the child with a light towel or blanket, and protect lips with a sunscreen lip balm. As weather can cool quickly, wrap your child in either a dry towel or blanket to prevent hypothermia.

“It is important to maintain hydration by drinking adequate amounts of water,” reminds the Water Police. In order to monitor water intake, have a separate bottle for each child.

Safety Plan

Ensure a first aid kit is available, and everyone on board knows where it is.

Explain basic boat rules, ensuring kids understand directions, such as, keeping hands and feet inside the boat at all times. Inform older kids about the safety equipment, such as the fire extinguisher, flares, radio and whistles etc. Remember to teach younger kids how to dial 000. Children often feel proud to be given responsibilities.

Discuss an emergency plan should someone fall into the water. Let family or friends know of your destination, duration, and when you expect to return.

Enjoying time with family is important and following basic safety rules will ensure a safe journey on our Gold Coast waters.


By Carmel Bellchambers