How to Keep Your Kids Safe at the Beach
The beach is a place of relaxation, fun in the sun, and unending wonders for everyone—especially for kids. As with any adventure, it's good to go talk about how to stay safe with your family and review important guidelines that help make your beach vacation the best it can be. Take some time out for discussion either before your trip or when you arrive at your Outer Banks rental. A few minutes of discussion can make a world of difference, plus peace of mind and safety are always of utmost priority.
Here are a few helpful ways to keep your kids safe at the beach and during your Outer Banks vacation. What would you add to this list?
Review the beach rules and regulations.It's not only important for adults to be informed of each beach town's rules and regulations; it's best to review them with everyone in your family so that everyone is aware of what to expect, as well as what to do or not to do in a given location. It's also good to talk about the lifeguard stations, where to find them and any particular signs, flags or warnings that need to be heeded.
Use a buddy system.When you're away from home, it's a good idea to ensure that everyone has someone to be accountable to and for. Using a buddy system helps to make certain that no one is alone or unattended. This is especially true for larger families or groups of people with more than one kid in tow. There is definitely safety in numbers.
Practice safe swimming.Safe swimming is important in any aquatic adventure. But a swimming pool is really different than the ocean waters with their ebb and flow, and sometimes powerful waves. Keep a close watch on all of your kids, not just the littler ones, as even the strongest of swimmers can easily be caught off guard in a rip current or strong tide. Teach your kids the proper way to handle a rip tide, which means staying calm and collected and floating to conserve energy whenever possible. The next step is to swim parallel to the shoreline whenever possible until they are out of the rip current and can swim safely back to the shore. Prevention and education are key in minimizing the dangers that come along with the natural elements. It's important to keep kids away from swimming near piers or around rocks and other potentially dangerous structures.
Three swimming safety rules for everyone to adhere to—young and old—are:
1. Don't let anyone swim alone.
2. Never leave children unattended.
3. Never swim impaired.
Be mindful of marine wildlife.You're in their territory and though the marine wildlife most likely mean you no harm, it's important for kids to be aware, mindful and respectful of the aquatic environment and inhabits around them. Jellyfish can sting whether they are alive or dead. Leaving sea turtle nests and other animal life undisturbed is part of respecting the coastal environment and maintaining the safety of the beach's natural inhabitants. Ask your kids not to poke and prod any marine wildlife, but particularly anything that may cause them unintended harm. Stay away from murky waters and under or around piers where people are fishing for optimal prevention and protection.
Apply sun safety.It's easy to underestimate the power of the sun's rays when you and your kids are busy playing in the sand and splashing around in the surf. Use appropriate broad-spectrum, waterproof sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 or higher, and remember to reapply often. One bad sunburn or case of sun poisoning can ruin an entire vacation, not to mention your overall health. Prevention is important. Make sure to use hats, sunglasses, board shirts and shorts, and other beach clothing that's designed to give you an added layer of sun protection. Avoid the peak hours of sun exposure by choosing to come to the beach earlier in the day or later. Or take a beach break in the middle of the day around lunchtime and go back to your vacation rental for an enjoyable air-conditioned reprieve.
ID your younger kids.
Having an ID bracelet or removable safety tattoo with your phone number and contact information in the event your child wanders away or gets disoriented is crucial to mitigate a scary situation. Go over what your kids should do in this scenario and how to get help. For older kids, it's not a bad idea to have them keep an identification card with contact information kept discreetly in their pocket or belongings in case they need it for reference.
Know what your kids are wearing each day.
Take a mental picture or snap a photo of what each of your children is wearing that particular day. Choosing bright clothing or patterns that help make them easily identifiable in a crowd and help you to keep an eye on them on a busy beach. Some families use glow stick bracelets or necklaces in the evenings for an added eye-catching way to know where your kids are and spot them quickly.
Are you looking for more ways to talk about beach safety with your kids? This article by Time.com on How to Talk to Your Kids About Beach Safety is a great way to continue the conversation.
What tips and tricks do you use to keep your kids safe on a beach vacation? We'd love to add a few more to our list!