Boating season is upon us, folks. This means fishing, swimming, boat races, and enjoying nature. Unfortunately, it also means wrestling kids into safety equipment which can be a real struggle for some parents. This season, I’d like to invite you to discuss boating safety with your kids using LEGO City’s Fishing Boat to keep the dialogue flowing.
Why is boating safety so important? Mostly because both boats and open water are dangerous, especially for little ones who cannot swim. In fact, in 2015 the Coast Guard reported 626 deaths involving boating accidents. By building the LEGO Fishing Boat, the builders encounter every major part of a boat and safety equipment. This is your chance to discuss why some of those parts are there, and establish expected behavior.
Major factors in deaths on boats include:
Lack of life vest:
The facts: In the case of drownings, 428 cases included reporting of life vest wearing status. 352 of those reported 428 deaths were people not wearing a life vest. More than 82% of these drowning victims might have survived if only they were wearing their life jacket.
Discussion points: While assembling your LEGO kit, emphasize the instructions on the first step which detail putting life jackets on the minifigures. This instruction being first is no accident. Wearing an appropriately fitting life vest is the most important step each boater can take to save their own lives.
The facts: Going overboard is dangerous. It’s not as simple as throwing a lifesaver at the person and reeling them in. In 2015, 296 people were reported to have fallen overboard. Of those 296, 169 died as a result of this accident. Another 125 injuries were reported. As you can see, few people fall overboard and emerge unscathed.
Discussion points: While assembling the boat, the builder attaches safety rails in step 34. While securing these rails in place, take the time to discuss the importance of respecting these boundaries. There’s also a lifesaver on board, so take a second to describe how they are used. Decide whether your young ones would benefit from a safety harness, allowing them to be tethered to a rail, seat, or another person, just in case.
The facts: Not just for kids, this is also a critically important factor for teens and adults. In 260 accidents, alcohol was listed as the primary factor in the accident. These accidents resulted in 91 deaths, and a further 228 injuries.
Discussion points: If you have kids going out on the water, make sure the operator will not be drinking. If you aren’t able to accompany your kids, choose chaperones carefully. In step 7 of the LEGO kit, you install cute little fridges. Take that moment to discuss the fact that alcohol use on board can be dangerous, and consumption which normally might be considered “responsible” on dry land is not so responsible on the water.
The facts: In 219 reported accidents, hazardous waters were listed as the primary factor. Of those, there were 80 deaths and another 115 injuries. Another 185 accidents were caused by weather, with 40 deaths and 60 injuries.
Discussion points: Take the time to talk to your kids about the importance of safety over fun. Hazardous waters or a light rain can seem like minor issues, but it is much better to safely return to port than extend the boating adventure. Prepare your kid with the knowledge that since the operator cannot control the water or weather, any boating trip might be cut short if the conditions aren’t safe.
The facts: A staggering 188 accidents were identified as having an unknown primary cause, with 105 deaths and another 46 injuries. Because these causes are unknown, it’s impossible to draw conclusions on ways in which one can prevent them.
Discussion points: Constant vigilance, no question. Barty Crouch (disguised as Alastor Moody) is a famous Harry Potter character for a number of reasons, but “constant vigilance” seemed to be his catch phrase. Take the time to describe the purposes of different parts of the boat while you assemble your fishing boat. All parts from lights to engines and safety buoys are important.
The LEGO City Fishing Boat is a great conversation starter for teaching kids important safety habits before they go out on the water. If you’re not going out on the water, it’s still a great little kit. It is composed of 144 pieces, and costs $15.99 on Amazon. That puts it a little over the 10-cent rule, but that’s to be expected with smaller kits. It’s a great gift or addition to your LEGO City collection, nevertheless.
Do you have some boating and water safety tips to share? Tag me on Twitter @TerminallyRory or leave a comment below.
All facts and figures come from the Coast Guard’s 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics Report.
Disclaimer: LEGO was kind enough to provide a review unit to aid in the writing of this post.