Taking the family to the ocean is an exciting experience for everyone. But ocean waters can be a dangerous place, especially for kids. We share some tips on how you can ensure your coastline getaway is a safe and happy one.
Keep an eye on the weather
The National Park Service cautions that bad weather conditions such as thunder or big waves are not to be toyed with. If you hear thunder, steer clear of the water, as it is more likely to attract lightning. Although children may want to play in big waves, they are far more dangerous than they appear and can quickly pull people away from shore. If the weather isn’t good, it’s better to wait it out than to risk putting your family in danger.
Be aware of water movements
An ocean may look calm, but that’s no guarantee what is going on underneath the surface is equally safe. KidsHealth.org explains that when water that’s built up onshore returns to the open water, it can cause a riptide, which can pull even experienced swimmers away from shore. That’s why it’s best to stay close to the beach where you can safely walk yourself back if necessary.
Inform yourself of potential wildlife
Oceans house many types of creatures, some of which can find their way near to shore on occasion. Small creatures such as jellyfish can occasionally approach and sting swimmers. If you do have a negative experience with a sea creature, seek the assistance of a lifeguard or first aid technician immediately to be on the safe side.
Have help on hand
Ocean swimming is fun, but it also possesses certain dangers you might never expect to face. That’s why it’s best to swim on a beach where lifeguards are present. They are trained in a variety of hazards and can assist you if anything goes wrong. Aim to stay within sight of the lifeguard tower so you can gesture or call to them if necessary. Also, if you have a particular concern, such as a child who is just learning to swim or one who has a tendency to wander off, let the guard know. He or she will likely be able to keep an eye out, which will give you some peace of mind.
Listen to the lifeguards
Obey the lifeguards at all times. If they say to get out of the water or to swim in a certain area, do so. They are trained in identifying potential hazards and are there to keep you safe.
When in doubt, ask!
Feel free to ask a nearby lifeguard or official any questions you may have. Watching over a beach is a solitary job, and they will likely welcome the opportunity to assist you. Even if you are fairly experienced with swimming, they will almost certainly know more about details specific to the beach you are on and can ensure you feel knowledgeable and secure before you start swimming.