Our family loves the ocean! For us, nothing says vacation or relaxing more than laying on the beach and swimming in the ocean. We have been fortunate to live within 30-45 minutes from the beach for about 7 years now, the last 3 having children be part of the trip. We’ve learned a few ‘beach trip tricks’ along the way in both fortunate and unfortunate ways. We hope our list will be helpful for your family as you plan your trip to the beach this summer!
Beach Trip Tips
1. Shade!- A important way to make sure your day will be full of fun, is to ensure you will have a shaded area when needed. While some beaches have their own shaded areas provided, others may not. Large beach umbrellas, half-dome tents, and even pop-up canopies are are great items to bring along on your trip.
Shaded areas provide retreat from the hot sun for young children and especially babies under 6 months who are not allowed to wear sunscreen to protect their skin from the sun! Storing coolers of food, drinks, and even a place for napping can also be huge benefits of having nearby shade while on the beach.
2. BIG Wheels!- While umbrella strollers and even some compact travel system strollers are easy to bring along for a trip to the beach, they may just cause you more frustration than they are worth! Small wheeled strollers get stuck in the sand easily and are near to impossible to push. If a smaller wheeled stroller is your only only choice, be prepared to either carry it across the sand and or pull it through the sand (if the sand is more compacted).
Jogging strollers and large wheeled wagons are fantastic to for the beach! While they still may be a little difficult to push in deep, soft sand, you can also resort to pulling them if needed. They also provide a place to toss certain things to keep them out of the sand, as well as a shaded, comfortable place for your little one to nap.
3. Sunscreen!- As recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, “Sunscreen should be applied one-half hour before going outside, giving the skin time to absorb it. Because sunscreen tends to be broken down over time by the sun, and rubbed or washed off with sweating and water exposure, it should be reapplied at least every two hours outdoors, and immediately after swimming or heavy sweating. At least one ounce (two tablespoons) is needed to cover the entire body surface. There is no need to throw away last year’s left-over sunscreens. Shelf life is typically two to three years. Many sunscreens now have an expiration date stamped on the container. Store the sunscreen in a cool place, since heat can gradually break it down.”
Use whatever sunscreen works best with your child’s skin type- sensitive, oily, etc. Neutrogena Wet Skin is a fantastic general sunscreen for children with a high SPF and an easy to spray on applicator bottle. Sunscreen sticks (they look similar to lip gloss) work great for sensitive faces and are easy to apply to noses, chins, and under the eyes.
4. Drinks & Snacks!- As a parent of young children, you probably already take drinks and snacks along with you where ever you go! Here are a few favorite ‘beach’ drink, snack, and meal ideas: fresh fruit (already cut up), crackers, cheese, prepared sandwiches (peanut butter & jelly, cold meat, tuna, etc.), carrot and celery sticks, juice boxes, and bottled water.
5. Personal Floatation Devices!- Life jackets and puddle jumpers are two types of personal flotation devices (PFD) that work well to keep your child safe in the water. Even young children who are good swimmers need to be with a swimming adult and or have a PFD on at all times. Swimming in the ocean is much different than swimming in a pool. Please see more recommended swimming equipment and read about each HERE.
6. Toys!- Be sure to grab your favorite sand toys, or even just a few buckets/plastic containers around your house. Our family loves to take buckets, shovels, and little water toys to decorate our sand castle or play with in the shallow water. Soccer balls, frisbees, volleyballs, and kites are also a lot of fun to have on the beach.
7. Powder! Before heading to your hotel or climbing back in the car to head home, pull out the powder! Sprinkle a little powder on your legs and feet; this will help soak up the moisture and then the rest of the sand with either fall or brush right off!
8. Dry Clothes! If you are driving home from the beach, nothing feels better than to have a change of clothes (especially for your sleepy little ones) than to get out of their wet swim clothes and into a dry diaper, shorts, or t-shirt. This can help them feel more comfortable and even help them nap better on the drive home!
Ocean Swimming Safety
Jr. Lifeguards.com shares the following: “The ocean is a wonderful place to spend a day, whether you are swimming, surfing, exploring tide-pools, or any of the other many activities. By always following a few simple safety tips you can prevent some of the more common accidents and injuries that occur in the ocean environment. Below are six basic safety tips you should always follow at the beach.
#1 ALWAYS SWIM NEAR A LIFEGUARD
Always choose a beach with a lifeguard on duty.
#2 IF YOU NEED HELP WAVE YOUR ARMS
Playing in the ocean can be fun, it can also be dangerous. If you get into trouble while in the water, signal for help by waving your arms above the water towards the shore.
#3 HOW TO GET OUT OF A RIP CURRENT
Rip currents are rivers of water that can pull you out to sea. If you become caught in a rip current, DON’T PANIC. The most important thing to remember if you’re caught in a rip current is: DON’T SWIM AGAINST THE CURRENT! Swim parallel to shore or tread water until help arrives.
#4 OBSERVE ALL WARNING SIGNS
Each year thousands of beach visitors are rescued from life-threatening conditions. Prevent this from occurring to you by observing all warning signs and asking the lifeguard for safety advice.
#5 SUPERVISE YOUR CHILDREN
When lifeguards are on duty, they are watching for problems, but can not see everything. If you bring small children to the beach, watch them carefully.
ALWAYS REMEMBER – SAFETY FIRST
By following these easy safety tips you can help make sure that your visit to the beach is both safe and fun. Be sure to check out our other Ocean Safety topics, The Sun, The Surf, The Sand, And You for more tips and information (jrlifeguards.com).”
Additional Ocean Swimming Safety Tips from the National Park Service:
- Non-swimmers should use Coast Guard-approved flotation vests, even while wading.
- Do not swim in the ocean alone – take a buddy with you
- Stay Sober – don’t swim while intoxicated. Alcohol can affect your judgement and your body temperature – impairing your ability to swim.
- Don’t swim during rough seas. Broken necks and paralysis have resulted from swimmers being thrown into the ocean bottom headfirst.
- The force of big waves crashing at the shore’s edge can pick you up and throw you into the sand. This may result in a dislocated shoulder or knee.
- Due to dangerous currents, never swim in the inlets.
- Do not swim at night or near fishing piers.
- Children should swim only with adult supervision.
- Know the various types of ocean currents and how to get out of them.
- Watch the weather. Storms and squalls come up quickly.
- Don’t swim during thunderstorms; lightening is extremely dangerous and does strike the beach.
- Don’t wear shiny objects when swimming – these objects may attract sharks and other fish.
- Watch for jellyfish. If stung, seek first aid if needed. Don’t rub sand on the stings. Spraying or pouring vinegar on the sting site often reduces the pain. If you don’t have vinegar, try ammonia or denatured alcohol.
- Do not swim near surfers – surfboard fins can cut you.