Trips to the beach can be a great source of family fun, but be mindful of these safety tips before you head for the sand, courtesy of CHOC Children’s community education team.
Know Before You Go
Always check weather reports for the beach and surrounding area before heading out for a day of fun in the sun. Never visit the beach or swim in the ocean during extreme weather, such as thunder or lightning. Be aware of posted signs and warning flags, or ask the nearest lifeguard if you’re not sure what they mean. Try to set up your home base for the day in a spot that’s close to a lifeguard station. Brightly covered umbrellas can be an easy way for swimmers to spot your group’s location from the water, as well as offering added sun protection.
What to Bring
Everyone over six months of age should wear sunscreen whenever they’re outdoors, so be sure to pack enough sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Apply every two hours, and more often if you’re in and out of the water. Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses can provide extra protection.
Drink plenty of water to avoid heatstroke. CHOC recommends that children drink the number of 8 oz. cups of water equal to their age. For example, a six-year-old should drink six 8 oz. glasses of water every day. Pack healthy snacks for added fuel.
Running and playing in the sand can be fun for both children and kids at heart, but always make sure to wear shoes at the beach. Hidden dangers in the sand like broken glass can ruin a fun beach day in no time, and on especially hot days, the temperature of the sand itself is enough to burn your feet. Some beachgoers using fire pits may inadvertently leave hot coals in the sand, which can retain heat and burn feet long after they were in use.
The most common beach injuries occur in the water due to strong waves. Remember that swimming skills are different for the pool and the ocean, so even though you may be an experienced pool swimmer, in the ocean you could face strong currents, rip tides, and unpredictable conditions. If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you get out of it, and then you can safely change course and swim towards shore.
If your child is not a strong swimmer, be sure they are wearing a U.S. Coast Guard Approved, properly fitting life vest and are under close supervision. Always use the buddy system when swimming and never go alone. Not all beaches are suitable for swimming, so be sure to check posted signage.
You might be sharing the water with ocean life, so be aware of animal life in the area you are visiting.
Hold off on swimming in the ocean with a cut or open wound, as it could lead to infection. Any abrasions must be closed and healing before you go in the water. Although rinsing small cuts or wounds with salt water is generally encouraged, the ocean’s water is not clean enough to get the job done. Instead, wait for any wounds to close before taking a dip in the ocean.