Beach Safety for Families: Enjoying the Summer Sun, Sand, and Sea Safely

Beach Safety for Families

Spending time by the water is a favorite activity for many families when the weather is pleasant. Whether you’re at the ocean, a lake, or a river, it’s essential to ensure that your outing is safe and free from health hazards. Here are some tips to keep in mind for beach safety.

Choose a Safe Location

  1. Opt for Beaches with Lifeguards: Always choose beaches where lifeguards are on duty for added beach safety.
  2. Check Water Quality and Conditions: Look for postings about water quality, rip currents, and shorebreaks, which can indicate unsafe swimming conditions. Remember, high bacteria levels in the water can also affect the sand.
  3. Inspect the Sand: Before setting up, scan the area for debris such as sharp sticks, bottles, or jellyfish. 
  4. Beware of Sand Holes: Children should only dig holes no deeper than their knees to prevent serious accidents or death. Avoid digging in sand dunes where sand can collapse, engulfing children and pets, posing serious injury and suffocation. Always fill in holes before you leave.
  5. Check Water Temperature: Comfortable swimming temperatures for young children range between 82° F and 86° F (28° C to 30° C). If the temperature isn’t posted, ask a lifeguard.
  6. Monitor the Weather: Head indoors if you hear thunder, as lightning poses a serious risk. Stay in a substantial building or a hard-topped vehicle and wait at least 30 minutes after the storm passes before returning to the beach.

Shoreline Beach Safety

  1. Respect the Water: Teach children to face the water and wade in feet-first to check the temperature and depth. Diving or jumping from high points like bridges, boats, or docks can lead to serious injuries.
  2. Designate a Water Watcher: An adult with good swimming skills should always watch the water and shoreline without distractions. In large groups, rotate water-watching duties among several adults.
  3. Use Life Jackets: According to the Red Cross, small children and weak swimmers should wear life jackets near or in the water. Life jackets are also essential for boating, paddling, waterskiing, or using jet skis.
  4. Adult Permission Required: Ensure children always check in with a parent or trusted adult before entering the water.
  5. Buddy System: Young children should be accompanied by an adult who keeps them within arm’s reach. As they gain more water safety skills, they can swim with peers but should never swim alone.

Sun Protection and Heat Illness Prevention

  1. Apply Sunscreen: Prevent sunburn by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Apply it at least 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every two hours or after swimming.
  2. Protect Babies: For infants under six months, use a wide-brimmed hat and lightweight clothing instead of sunscreen to avoid skin reactions. Ensure they have a shaded spot to play or nap.
  3. Use Protective Clothing: Rash guards and long-sleeved tops provide extra protection, especially during peak UV hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Protect feet with water shoes, flip-flops, or sneakers as the sand can become extremely hot.
  4. Seek Shade: During peak sun hours, stay in the shade as much as possible. Ensure beach umbrellas are securely anchored to prevent accidents and remember that they do not offer complete UV protection—sunscreen is still necessary for beach safety.
  5. Stay Hydrated and Cool: Keep everyone hydrated by offering water frequently and taking breaks in the shade to prevent heat illness. Watch for signs of overheating in children.

Following these beach safety guidelines will help ensure your family enjoys a safe and fun day at the beach. By taking the necessary precautions, you can make wonderful memories while keeping everyone safe and healthy.

Read Also: Summer Travel: A Few Tips To Stay Healthy Away From Home

Sky Pittson, MD, June, 2024

Take the first step towards improving your child’s health with pediatric integrative medicine. Call The Village Doctor at (650) 851-4747 or Contact us to learn more about the practice.