Summertime at the beach is the quintessential childhood experience
It’s a time to explore nature, soak up sand and surf, and create golden family memories.
As the school year draws to a close, many families are planning their beach getaways. It’s so important to start talking with your children now about beach safety. If you wait until you pull up to the sandy beaches, chances are your kids will be so enthralled that they won’t take in much of what you say.
Even if your children are good swimmers who have taken swimming lessons, there are a few key safety precautions to take at the beach. Here’s our simple guide of things to talk about before you hit the waves.
1. Remember the Safer 3
Any body of water, no matter how large or small, can create a risk for drowning. It’s never possible to be completely “safe” in the water, but there are things you can to do reduce risk and be safer. We call this principle, the “Safer 3.”
Up first is safer water. Any time your children are around water, there should be safety measures taken both in and around the water. At the beach, this means that there should be appropriate signs and flags, restroom facilities, and access to first aid.
Next is safer kids. Children should always have adult supervision, be it a lifeguard, friend, or parent. Do not assume that someone else has an eye on your children. Just because there are other adults or even a lifeguard present, it does not mean they are paying attention to your child. Keep constant visual contact while they are in the water.
Lastly, practice safer response. If you do encounter an emergency, know and use first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Keep your phone with you at all times, so that you can contact emergency services if necessary.
Practicing the Safer 3 will help keep you and your family safer around water this summer, and all year-round!
2. Sun and sand
If you’re focused on good habits for staying safer in the water, don’t forget about protection from the sun and heat. Too much sun can quickly spoil a dreamy beach afternoon. So, stay hydrated! Drink plenty of fluids and make sure your kids stay hydrated as well.
Use sun protection. Sunscreen is essential, and you’ll need to reapply every so often as sweat and water can wash away the protective layer.
Know the signs of heat sickness – headache, chills, fever, cramps. These could be indicative of being very overheated, and it may be a sign of heat exhaustion or stroke. Take breaks every so often to step inside, cool off, reapply sunscreen, and drink some water.
3. Waves and currents
Unlike pool swimming, the ocean moves in patterns and currents. This can be a joyful experience, and most kids love to jump into the waves as they cascade toward them. Sometimes, however, waves and currents can be too strong for comfort or even outright dangerous.
Talk with your children about safety precautions in the water. Rip currents can form in any part of the ocean and are especially common around sandbars, jetties, and piers.
If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and swim parallel to the shore until you are free from its pull. Don’t fight the current, just float or tread water until you are out of the current and you can head toward shore. Make sure to wave and call for help so that other people on the beach know what is happening.
4. Use the buddy system
Make sure your child knows not to go in the water alone, as this is a common way for accidents to happen.
Designate a buddy – like a sibling, cousin, or friend – who will be with them at all times. A buddy can help a child through an accident or get help. Even with a parent watching onshore, it is still a good idea to have a buddy nearby in the water to assist if needed.
One of the most exciting things about going to the beach is the chance to interact with wildlife.
It’s a good idea to talk with your child in advance about how to interact with wildlife they may encounter at the beach. Because we share the beach with these animals, we must be mindful of the potential risks.
Any neat critters you see at the beach should be enjoyed but not touched. Even small creatures like sand crabs can give you an uncomfortable pinch if you handle them.
Some creatures, like jellyfish or stingrays, can even cause painful injury. So, remind your children to keep an eye out, and if they see an animal, look but don’t touch.
Swimming skills year-round at Ocaquatics
At Ocaquatics, we offer year-round lessons to help people of all ages become safer in the water. Our programs for children focus on “SAFER 3.”
We offer group swimming lessons for children as young as six months, all the way up to adulthood. It’s never too late to sign up. Contact us today if you are ready for your child to begin learning how to become safer around water.