The dog days of summer are upon us and the beach looks even more inviting than usual. Time to grab those swimsuits, sandals and beach towels and head out for some cool ocean breezes and refreshing water. Before giving yourself up to sand, surf and sun, however, take a few minutes to consider these beach safety tips for you and your kids.
U.S. drowning statistics are sobering at best:
- Third leading cause of death overall
- Second leading cause of death for people between the ages of five and 44
- Leading cause of death for toddlers aged one and two
Near drowning statistics are likewise sobering. For every 10 children who drown, 140 others require emergency room treatment, 36 of whom require hospitalization. Some kids never fully recover.
While a deserted beach is one of the most romantic spots on earth, be sure to swim only at lifeguarded beaches once your romantic twosome becomes a family. Ask the lifeguards if the water poses any hazards such as abrupt dropoffs, jellyfish, or even sharks. Also, even though salt water is more buoyant than fresh water, insist that your children wear life jacketsapproved by the U.S. Coast Guard whenever they are in or near the water.
Ocean water is notorious for offshore rip currents, the rivers of water running perpendicular to the beach produced by the combination of surf and gravity. When the surf pushes the water up the slope of the beach, gravity pulls it back. Fortunately, most rip currents are reasonably narrow. If you become caught in one, do not attempt to fight it head-on. Instead, swim parallel to the shore until you are out of it before swimming back to land. If you don’t think you can make it back, draw attention to yourself by waiving and calling for help.
Never dive headfirst into unknown waters from a cliff, rock, pier, jetty or anything else or allow your kids to do so. Should they or you strike your head on the bottom, the result could be a broken neck causing quadriplegia or paraplegia. Jump in feet first the first time, pulling your legs up so as not to break them on a surprisingly shallow bottom. Then carefully check the water’s depth and determine if any underwater hazards are present. Only when you know – literally – what you’re diving into is it safe to dive. If you and your kids are body surfing aficionados, always do so with one of your hands extended in front of you so as to prevent hitting your head and/or neck when coming onto shore.
Sun and Heat Protection
You can receive a second-degree sunburn even on days when the sky is overcast, hazy or the air is full of smog. Always wear a sunscreen of at least 15 SPF to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays. Apply it often throughout the day and whenever you get out of the water. Wear sunglasses and hat with a wide brim while on the beach to further protect your eyes and face.
The temperature on a beach can be considerably higher than you realize due to those marvelous ocean breezes. Drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic beverages throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
Remember, public and private beaches are like any other premises. The owner must provide you with a reasonably safe and hazard-free environment. If you or your child is injured at a beach through someone’s negligence, please call Richard A. Dubi toll-free at 833-FOR-DUBI (833-367-3824).