10 tips for a safe family beach vacation

family beach vacation
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Many families head to the beach every year for a summer vacation. For many, a sunny day at the beach is the best kind of summer day and a great way to spend their family vacation. A sure way to ruin a family beach vacation, however, is to have someone get sick or injured (or worse). While beach vacations are great, they are not without risk. Here are 10 tips for a safe family beach vacation.

1. Heed local warnings

It is important for people to understand that the wind generates waves. The stronger the wind, the stronger the waves. When there are surfers at the beach , it is a sign that there are stronger currents and more frequent waves: which may be too strong for the average swimmer and certainly for small and adventurous children.

But the flags are not always present on the beaches. Abroad, you may not have any warnings or different warning systems to consult. Ask local lifeguards or your hotel or resort for their recommendations.

2. Be aware of your surroundings

Unlike your home where you may know every crack and nook, the beach may not be familiar to you, especially if you are on holiday abroad where there is a possibility of a tsunami. Study the geographic area. Although the possibility of a tsunami is slim, it is important that you know where you are. Check which part of the nearby street is higher than sea level. This will help you become familiar with streets that can take you to higher ground in an emergency.

3. Alcohol and Swimming/Boating Don’t Mix

Almost half of all serious injuries (including drownings) involve the consumption of alcohol. Even small amounts of alcohol can impair your judgement, balance and coordination. The alcohol level in a person’s body is higher when they don’t drink a lot of water and are in the sun: three factors that lead to dehydration.

4. Find out about the beach wave conditions

It’s a good idea to ask the local lifeguard about the wave conditions at the beach before getting too deep in the water. These are strong, channeled currents of water that flow away from shore and the waters quickly pull even very strong swimmers far offshore. Rip currents generally extend from the shore to the surf zone and cross the line of the breaking waves.

5. Real drowning doesn’t look like what you see on TV

Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children (just behind car accidents). Of the approximately 750 children who die each year, more than half of them do so within 25 meters of an adult. In an article in Coast Guard’s On Scene magazine, it is explained that drowning is very different from what we see on TV and movies.

6. Go inside when you see lightning

When a storm hits, the beaches close, but if you’re traveling to an area with little supervision or beach maintenance, you can’t be called out and go inside. Lightning on beaches is extremely common and is the third deadliest threat to bathers and swimmers each year. Don’t wait for the storm to break out. Enjoy the interior view of your accommodation instead.

7. Do not dive into water until you know the depth

Never dive headfirst into water: even if you know the depth, because underwater conditions (like fallen rocks) may have changed since you last visited. The sand under water is neither soft nor forgiving: it is hard packed with the pressure of the water.

8. Look But Don’t Touch

On the beach and underwater there is plenty of marine life to see when swimming, diving or snorkeling. Some marine life washes up on the beach, and when it does, it’s not a good idea to get too close or touch it. Don’t let curiosity get the better of you or your children: look but don’t touch.

9. Take frequent breaks

Exhaustion, sunburn, hypothermia, heat stroke and more are common problems when spending time at the beach near water all day. Go to the bathroom, drink fresh water, have a light snack, reapply sunscreen, these are all essential to be comfortable after a long day of sun, sand and salt water. Taking frequent breaks lets you see that everyone still has energy and is feeling good.

10. Avoid jellyfish, bottles and hooks

All jellyfish sting, but most are not poisonous enough to do much harmIf someone is stung by a jellyfish, they should immediately seek medical attention for proper treatment.

How to know the jellyfish area? You must consult a local guide or ask questions. Some areas have swarms that occur at different times of the year, to be safe stay out of the water at these times.

Infographic Provided by Paddling Michigan, a provider of kayak tours of Pictured Rocks

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