By Diane Laney Fitzpatrick
Your ocean visits should be full of fun and adventure and free from accidents. Be prepared for dangers from the water, sand and sun, and practice beach safety.
Love Your Lifeguard
Set up your beach spot in an area manned by lifeguards. Lifeguards will warn you of sharks or other dangerous sea life nearby; they’re aware of undertows and perilous water conditions; they will enforce safe limits on swimming and they’re trained to spot distressed swimmers.
No matter how attentive a [caregiver] is, children of all ages are safest in areas staffed by trained lifeguards.
Sand Hole Dangers
Beach sand safety should be a top priority. Don’t let children dig deep holes and trenches in the sand. More than two dozen young people have been killed over the last decade when sand holes collapsed on them, according to a June 18 Associated Press report. People climbing in or falling in sand holes can become quickly buried when the sand collapses, making sand more dangerous and deadly than sharks, experts say.
Sea Life Dangers
Jellyfish, cone shells, stingrays, sea snakes, man-o-war, sharks, crocodiles, scorpions, and even some insects can turn your day at the beach into a trip to the hospital emergency room.
Teach children not to touch something in the water or on the sand if it might be alive, as colorful as it might be. It’s a good idea to wear beach shoes even when in the water, to avoid stepping on dangerous sea life, as well as sharp shells and rocks.
Being on the beach, with the nearby water attracting the sun and a cooling, ocean breeze, you might be deceived into thinking the sun is not a danger. Even on an overcast day, the sun can cause serious sunburn on the beach.Use sunscreen often and liberally. When possible, cover skin with a loose t-shirt or a beach towel or cover-up, and wear a sun hat with a brim. See Sun Safety by Numbers.
Dangerous Water Conditions
Riptides, undertows, strong currents, high waves and rough surf can quickly become dangerous for even those in shallow ocean water. Be aware of the particular water safety hazards at the beach where you are and ask lifeguards if there are any signs you should watch for. Read more about water safety.
Storms crop up quickly and without warning on open beaches. The National Weather Service’s lightning safety recommendations say if you’re on the beach and you hear thunder or are aware of an approaching storm, you should go immediately to your car. Don’t seek shelter under beach picnic shacks, since they’re not safe in lightning storms. Wait 30 minutes after the last thunder crack before going back to the beach or driving home.
Keep a close eye on children at the beach at all times. Crowded beaches make it hard to find your blanket spot, especially if you’ve been in the water and you’ve unknowingly moved with the current. Don’t let youngsters go off alone. Tell them to go to the lifeguard station if they get separated from the family.
Just because you’re near water doesn’t mean you’re getting enough water. Being in the sun can cause dehydration, especially if you’re running or playing on the beach. Bring plenty of drinking water to the beach with you and be sure the children take frequent water breaks.
Don’t let beach hazards keep you away from the fun. But be aware of beach safety rules and tips so you can prepare yourself for the best vacation ever.
Tomorrow we will share activities to do at the beach.
Will you be taking the children to the beach this summer?