The best fishing days are safe fishing days. With all of the excitement that often surrounds an upcoming fishing trip, don’t forget to run through a list of fishing safety rules for kids beforehand. Parents and fishing mentors need to remember that proper preparation, guidance and constant adult supervision are requirements when taking kids fishing.
Below is a list of fishing safety rules for kids that parents can use as an easy reference:
Assemble a fishing first aid and safety kit. Put together a fishing safety kit and bring it along on all of your fishing trips. Include items such as antibiotic ointment, bandages, insect repellent, pain reliever, anti-inflammatory medicine, extra water, flashlights, maps, and a cell phone or marine radio.
- Make sure kids have a properly fitting life jacket that has been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Always make sure each child has a properly fitting life jacket or personal flotation device that is U.S. Coast Guard approved. Watch a video on how to select the best life jacket.
- Choose fishing spots carefully when kids are involved and check to be sure that fishing is allowed in the area where you intend to fish. Look for any potential safety hazards such as loose boards on a fishing pier or pieces of glass on a shoreline.
- Protect kids from the elements. Even when it’s cool and cloudy outside, kids are still exposed to the sun’s strong rays. Always apply waterproof sunscreen on kids before a fishing trip and re-apply often. It’s also a good idea to dress kids in several thin layers of clothing since mornings and evenings can be especially damp and chilly on the water. Include a waterproof and windproof jacket as the outer layer.
- Keep kids indoors and away from the water if there is lightning. If there is lighting, keep kids indoors. Period.
- Make sure kids wear a pair of sunglasses. Be sure kids wear polarized sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun’s rays as they reflect off the water and to help them fish and other objects. Sunglasses are also worn while fishing to protect eyes from errant casts with hooks.
- Have kids wear a hat. Hats keep the sun out of your eyes while fishing. They also keep your head cool in the summer and warm in the winter as well as protecting your head from stray cast with hooks.
- Take the time to explain to kids how sharp fishing hooks are and why they need to be handled with care. Show kids how to handle tackle (particularly sharp fishing hooks and line cutters) responsibly.
- Teach kids to be aware of other anglers and where they are casting. Remind kids to look around them and behind them before they cast. If there are other anglers in the area, tell them to give the other anglers enough room and not stand too close to where they are casting.
- If on a boat, remind kids to stay seated when the boat is in motion. Boat wakes and waves can come up unexpectedly. Remind kids to stay seated and explain to them why it’s important.
- Educate kids on how to identify different fish species and which ones may have sharp barbs, teeth or spines. Some fish species, such as saltwater catfish, have sharp barbs or spines that can cause injury. Teach kids which species are safe to handle and which ones aren’t. It’s also important that kids know how to identify the various fish species so that they understand how to follow the fishing regulations.
- If fishing with kids from shore, remind them to stay close.Make sure they are always within sight and let them know not to wade into water that may have undercurrents or unknown structure.
Keep kids hydrated while fishing. Dehydration can be a major concern for all anglers and boaters, but particularly for kids. Water is the best choice to keep them hydrated. If fishing on a particularly hot day, sports drinks can help replenish lost electrolytes. Remind them to drink plenty of water before, during and after the fishing trip.