The summer months often mean frequent days at the beach if you happen to live close enough to the coast. While this is a great summer activity for all the family, there are precautions that both parents and preschoolers need to keep in mind. Here are some of the top beach safety tips to keep in mind this summer.
Why Parents Should Discuss Beach Safety with their Preschoolers
Water safety and beach safety are two pretty important things to discuss with your little ones. While water safety, in general, is important, there are things about the beach that can be quite different from the local pool. That is why parents should set aside extra time to specifically discuss beach safety with their children. A swimming pool will stay the same day after day, but the ocean changes daily, sometimes even by the hour.
Heading to the Beach: Here’s How to Keep Your Kids Safe
Follow these beach safety tips so your kids can have a fun day in the water:
1. Watch the ocean for 15 minutes.
Some people make the mistake of jumping into the ocean right away, but calm waters can be deceiving, especially if you have just arrived at the beach. Sometimes the ocean will appear less turbulent than it is between sets of giant waves and before you know it you are getting pulled further in as the waves build up again.
Instead, try and do a thorough check of both the water and beach with your kids. Are there any lifeguards present? Are there red flags? How are other people or kids at the beach getting into the sea and behaving? Are there rocks near the shore?
These are great questions to observe the ocean through and to figure out what it is doing. Then, once you are ready to get into the water, be sure to instruct your kids on one of the most fundamental rules in ocean safety: never turn your back on the sea. This means while you or your children are in the water, they should be facing out towards the open ocean where you can keep an eye on any incoming waves. This reduces the chances of being knocked off-guard and being swept into the current.
2. Always wear a life jacket.
All young children should be wearing an approved life vest when they will be playing in the water. Even if they will only be playing in water up to their knees or waist, the waves are strong enough to cause them to lose their footing so it’s important that they wear a flotation device so they are able to stay above water.
3. Pick the right beach and safe area on that beach.
Not every beach is kid-friendly. You can help set your children up for success by picking a beach that will make their beach experience a positive one. For young kids, the best kind of beach will be sandy, with a gentle slope towards the water and no rocks or strong currents. You’ll also want to be able to wade out into the water for a few yards where it remains knee-deep. You don’t want your children playing where there are steep drop-offs where they can fall into water that is above their head.
4. Get serious about sun protection.
Most beaches won’t have shady areas, so it’s important to bring along a beach umbrella for your family to sit under when taking a break from the water. Apply sunscreen on your little ones and reapply frequently so they don’t get a sunburn. It’s also a good idea to take a cooler with you with refreshments and water so you can keep everyone hydrated as well.
5. Bring some beach or water shoes with you.
Many children love to feel the sand between their toes when they’re playing around at the beach, however, during the hottest parts of the day the sand can become too hot for bare feet to walk on. Be sure to bring some beach shoes, water shoes, or flip flops with you to keep everyone’s feet comfy and protected.
Staying Safe This Summer: How to Keep Beach Visits Fun
It’s important to ensure that your visits to the beach are as positive as possible so that your children can grow up with respect and affection for the ocean. You can opt to play in the water with your children, and help them jump over the waves. Or, if you feel yourself getting tired from all the watery action, there are plenty of other beach games and activities you can play on the sand. For example, searching for tide pools or bringing along some sand toys to dig holes or build sandcastles together.
Your kids will play naturally at the beach, so having fun isn’t hard and doesn’t need much guidance. What matters most is the time spent together! Keep your beach trips fun and safe by following these summer safety tips for kids.
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