Summertime means beach time for many families – including mine! While beach days are generally great, they can also be very dangerous if you forget to take the proper safety precautions.
According to the CDC, almost 4,000 persons die from drowning each year, and drowning is responsible for more deaths among children aged 1-4 years (aside from congenital anomalies).
To keep your children out of harm’s way – while still having plenty of fun – follow these rules to ensure beach safety for children both in and out of the water.
In the Water!
- Swim near a lifeguard on duty.
- Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets whenever they are near or in the water.
- Whenever young children and inexperienced swimmers are near the water, never take your eyes off them.
- Look out for rip currents. According to the Red Cross, people die from rip currents every year, and they are responsible for most of the rescues performed by lifeguards. Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties as they almost always have rip currents near them. Inform children to swim parallel to the shore if they happen to get caught up in one, and then once out of the current they can swim back to shore.
- Always swim with a buddy. This is a good rule to follow even for the most experienced of swimmers.
- Teach children to look out for potentially harmful marine life. Jellyfish are common to many beaches, and while they are not life threatening, they sting like no other, especially to a young child. Though shark attacks are rare, be aware of the possibility. To be safe, avoid swimming during twilight hours, if the water is murky, or if fisherman are nearby.
Out of the Water!
- Keep the entire family safe from sun overexposure by applying the right sunscreen. Make sure it has an SPF of 30 or greater and contains zinc oxide to protect from both UVA and UVB rays. Apply the sunscreen 20 minutes before you hit the beach, and reapply every two hours (or sooner!) if you are sweating or swimming.
- Provide kids with protective gear like hats and sunglasses to protect them from the sun.
- Have children drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Be aware of any flags or signs posted by lifeguards that warn against tides, marine life, and other potential dangers. Teach your children about these warning indicators so they can understand what to look for too.
- Accompany children on any sandy excursions. Hunting for seashells is a fun activity at the beach, but sadly it can be dangerous too. Between old cigarette butts, other litter, and dead marine life, your little adventurers can pick up items that are definitely not seashells.
Everyone wants to have a good time at the beach, so hopefully these tips will protect your family and still encourage plenty of fun!