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Beach Safety: Water, Sun, Sand and Creature

Read through this list before heading to the beach this summer.


Water Safety

Water is fun but potentially dangerous. Unlike a pool, the water in the ocean can’t be regulated or predicted. More than 80 percent of beach rescues occur from rip currents, the National Weather Services warns. Never take your eyes off children at the beach. Swim only at beaches with lifeguards present because the risk of drowning at a beach without lifeguards is five times higher than that of drowning with lifeguards present, where the risk of drowning is just 1 in 18 million, according to the U.S. Lifesaving Association. Don’t depend on boogie boards or other devices to keep a child safe in the water; they can easily fall off.

Sun Safety

Sand and water both reflect sun, subjecting your child to a higher risk of sunburn. Insist on hats with brims that shade his face and the back of his neck and ears and cover all exposed skin with water-resistant sunscreen that blocks both AVA and UVB rays with a sun protection factor of at least 30. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside so it has time to work. Reapply every two hours. Tightly woven clothing also helps reduce sun exposure. Sun can also damage little eyes, so protect them with UV protective sunglasses.

Sand Safety

Sand seems innocuous enough, but a study conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and published in the January 2012 issue of “Epidemiology” found that beach sand can harbor bacteria that cause intestinal illnesses. Keep sand out of your child’s mouth and wash your hands thoroughly after digging. While being buried in sand looks fun, it increases the risk of ingesting sand and coming down with intestinal illness after a beach trip. Children have also suffocated when sand holes they were buried in collapsed. Sand can also hide broken glass or other safety hazards. Wear shoes to prevent cuts and bruises.

Creature Safety

The ocean is full of dangerous creatures. While it’s unlikely that your child will meet a shark in the water, jellyfish, stingrays, crabs and other small biters can all introduce a little misery into a beach day. Teach your child what jellyfish look like in and out of the water and instruct him not to touch them or walk on them. If he does, have vinegar at the ready to take the sting out. Apply for 30 seconds, then rinse. A paste made from baking soda and sea water will help reduce the sting from sea nettles or Portuguese man-of-wars, suggests. Crabs can nip fingers so warn your child to keep his hands away from the pinchers.