From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health
Children, Safety
June 30, 2017

Five tips to stay safe at the beach

We all want our little beach boys and girls to have as much fun in the sun as they can – but nothing will turn the tide on a family vacation more than a bad sunburn or an unexpected injury. Here are five tips to keep in mind as you plan that next family outing.

1. Only swim when a lifeguard is present. The United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) reports that drownings are five times more likely to occur on beaches where a lifeguard is not present. Lifeguards are trained to know about all kinds of hazards in and out of the water, and they are there to keep alert for signs of danger, as well as provide aid in the event of an emergency. As a parent, you want that extra watchful eye on your child. Also, be sure to read all posted signs about possible hazards and take them seriously. If you have questions about the meaning of a sign, ask a lifeguard.

2. Children should always swim with a partner. An adult should always be present to supervise younger children in the water. Even adults should have a swimming “buddy” with them at all times. If something happens to one person, the other can assist that person or alert a lifeguard. 

3. Children should not turn their backs to the waves. A large wave can come up unexpectedly and knock your child underwater. The surprise and force of the wave could contribute to a child drowning. Instruct children to always face the waves and be aware of what’s coming at them.

4. Teach your child to recognize jellyfish. A child may feel compelled to touch one of these colorful sea creatures, but the sting from a jellyfish or Portuguese man-of-war can be extremely painful. Jellyfish sting by injecting venom through thousands of tiny barbs on their tentacles. In some cases, injuries can lead to life-threatening conditions, so avoid these animals at all costs. 

5. Use sunscreen to protect children from harmful UV rays. Sunburns affect everyone. Fair-skinned people are at the highest risk, but even people with dark colored skin still are at risk and should use precautions. An unprotected child can be sunburned in just 10 to 15 minutes of outdoor play, even on cloudy days.
  • Apply sunscreen liberally about 20 minutes before going out into the sunlight; then reapply it every two hours, even on cloudy days, and more often if spending time in or on the water. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a sunscreen made for children with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15. You should use a sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, meaning that it protects against not only UVB rays (the kind that cause sunburn), but also UVA rays (the kind that cause skin cancer). Also, be sure the sunscreen is not out of date.
  • Keep babies under six months of age out of direct sunlight. If this is not possible, a small amount of sunscreen may be used on small areas.

We hope these tips help your family stay safe and healthy and that you have a wonderful time at the beach this summer!