Heading to the beach with your kids is a spectacular way to spend a family vacation. However, the ocean can be stressful when you're traveling with young children. Here are five tips that will help make sure you have a safe, happy time at the beach:
1. Apply sunscreen
It's one of the most basic beach-going precautions, yet many people forget this simple step. Applying sunscreen at the beach is of the utmost importance – not only are you dealing with the rays on their way down, but bright sand can reflect that light back up at you, so you're effectively getting a double dose. Put on a generous amount of sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher at least once every hour.
If you start to notice your or your child's skin turning pink, head indoors. Putting on more sunscreen won't protect your skin at this point – it's already burnt. Your big job at that stage is getting out of the sun to prevent the sunburn from getting any worse.
2. Check conditions
You should always check the beach's condition before you head out to swim. There are many factors that can make it unsafe to head out in the water, and only a few of them are easy to spot. While you'll definitely know if there's a storm or huge waves, there are other dangerous conditions much sneakier. For example, if the water has high levels of bacteria, swimming might make you sick. Only swim if conditions are good, and there are lifeguards present to let you know if that changes.
3. Wear a life jacket
If one of your children is unable to swim unassisted, make sure he or she is wearing a life jacket. Other flotation devices like arm floaties or inner tubes can only be safely used by people who can confidently swim without them. When you take your child into the water, make sure he or she is well-equipped to stay safe.
4. Bring a first aid kit
Accidents happen, but little cuts and scrapes don't have to ruin your day. However, there's no bummer quite like trudging back to your hotel or Hawaii vacation rental just to get a bandage. Make sure you have plenty of adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment and cleaner on hand. That way, you can quickly and easily mend any minor boo-boos, and everyone can get back to having a great time at the beach.
5. Keep your self safe
You can't protect your children from danger if you're overdoing it yourself. Make sure you're respecting your limits when swimming and playing in the water, and taking plenty of breaks to rest and reapply sunscreen. As long as you're not tiring yourself out too much, you shouldn't have any problems being there in the event of an emergency. However, if you swim too hard or too long, your reflexes might not be at their best – injuries you might have been able to prevent, like trips and falls, could end up casting a dark cloud over the whole day.