Beach season is well underway. Knowing the best tips to keep your kids safe this summer is as important as any other precautions you take year round. Below are tips to help your family day at the beach be more enjoyable for all involved.
1. Learn to Swim.
This may seem like common knowledge, but even if you don't plan to go in the water, both you and your child need to know how to swim just in case. Flotation devices, or inner tubes won't take the place of learning the basics of swimming. The ocean is powerful and unpredictable. Getting knocked over by a wave can incite panic in someone that doesn't know how to swim. With the little ones, these waves are even more powerful and can drag them under the water instantly leading to a drowning accident.
Always swim near an open lifeguard tower. They're in place to protect you and guide you to safety in the case of rough waters or inclement weather. Teach little ones to look out for the lifeguard tower and teach them the risks of playing in the water without one near. The risk of drowning is significantly decreased with the protection of trained lifeguards.
3. Never Dive into the Ocean
Teach little ones the danger of diving headfirst into the water. Especially in more shallow waters, diving into the water puts them at serious risk of head and neck injuries. Encourage them to always enter the water feet first. Never turn your back on the ocean. Always face the waves. This is an important message for your children to learn and understand.
4. Learn Flag and Warning Signs and Obey Them
Ask lifeguard personnel what each flag stands for and teach your children to be aware of them. The flags are used to warn beach goers of dangerous ocean conditions such as riptides and rough waters. Yellow indicates caution as there are some light currents. Red indicates a very strong current and it is not recommended that children get into the water. A double red flag indicates that the beach is closed to the public. Purple flags represent the presence of dangerous marine life such as jellyfish.
5. Rip Currents
Rip Currents are dangerous areas of water that are powerful enough to drag the strongest swimmer away from shore and deeper into the ocean. Teach your children not to panic, but to swim parallel to the shore until they are free from the grip. Panic will not help, so teaching them how to get out of the situation will give them confidence to get back to the shore safely.
6. Life Jackets
Children should always be wearing an approved life jacket when in or near water. As stated above, the ocean is unpredictable and kids could be easily knocked over by a wave. Without the life jacket, their chances of drowning increase significantly.
7. Wear Shoes on the Sand
As one of the ultimate parts of the beach is feeling the sand between your toes, it's best for kids to wear water shoes while at the beach. Not only can the sand become very hot, but it helps to protect those little feet from broken glass and other hazards hiding in the sand.
Last, but not least, sunscreen protects your children's delicate skin from the harsh sun. Make sure to choose a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF protection factor of at least 50. Babies should use sunscreen that is made for them, as it has ingredients that will not irritate their skin and are safe if they are to put an arm or hand into their mouth. Remember the sunscreen should be reapplied throughout the day whether or not they are in the water. Refer to the instructions on your bottle for specific incidences to reapply.