7 Beach Safety Tips for Enjoying Florida Beaches with Kids
Beach safety is the hidden side of our love of the beach time. Since our mother is a born and raised Florida beach native and lover, through the years she has passed on many tidbits of beach safety wisdom that make our beach days much more pleasant (and safer!). If you’re headed to the beach soon, I hope these tips help you enjoy every day of your trip too!
1: Sun protection, Sun protection, Sun protection
Yes, I know it’s summer and you’re at the beach and you’re dreaming of a tan. Not tanning is rarely the issue. That gleaming white sand and sparkling emerald water reflect the sun’s rays, multiplying the rays’ effects and making them much more powerful than they would be if you were spending the day out in another location. Sunburn can happen before you know it. Sun protection is key to enjoying multiple beach days in a row (and for years to come. Ask our mother who’s battled skin cancer.). We use sunglasses, hats, swim shirts (kids too!), and plenty of sunblock (reapply often!). I know, I know, hats and shirts seem fuddy-duddy. But the totally rad surfers wear them too! Be rad like them. Joking aside, covering up is hands-down the best way to not get burned, especially during the most intense hours of sun (about 10:00-2:00). Double up on protection during those hours, and you’ll still return home plenty tan. When applying sunblock don’t forget the part/thin areas of your hair, the tops of your feet, and the tips of your ears! Especially easy to forget — your lips, but they’ll burn too! Pick up sunblock for your lips with SPF 45-50, like this, this or this (the one I’ve used lately, though I don’t really have a favorite). Trust me, your lips will thank you. There’s a reason sun protection is top of the beach safety list!
2: Sun Protection When It’s Cloudy
Didn’t you just talk about sun protection? Repeat yourself much? It’s super easy to forget that clouds don’t block those UV rays that will burn you — you can sit out all day in the cool breeze and forget that your skin is roasting because you’re not hot. Trust me, I’ve done it. And it will ruin the next day or two of your vacation. (Yeah, that’s happened too.) All those sun protection tips are almost more important when it’s cloudy, because you don’t feel what’s happening until it’s too late.
3: Go in Late Afternoon
Want to know the best time of day to go to the beach? In our opinion it’s late afternoon and evening, from about 2:00-sunset. It’s still plenty sunny, but not nearly as hot, the day only cools more as the breeze picks up, and to top it off you get to watch gorgeous sunsets over the water while enjoying that breeze. It’s heaven. Pack a picnic dinner and soak it in. Bonus: it can work really well with kids’ nap times too!
4: Sand Removal: Baby Powder/Bucket of Water
As you head back home from your glorious day, sand in the car is inevitable. Embrace it. But maybe not all of it. If there aren’t showers nearby to rinse off, bring a little bucket of water up to dip sandy feet into. Michelle also swears by baby powder for sandy legs; sprinkle it on and rub the sand off. Melissa just makes her kids rinse off even if they’re dry. 😉 If you don’t have rubber mats in your car, try laying a beach towel on the floor before the kids climb in to more easily shake what sand remains out later.
5: Flag Codes
So here’s a beach safety tip for the actual swimming part. When you enter the beach area, you’ll often see a colored flag flying beneath the American flag, either green, yellow, red, or purple. Green means all is calm and clear, yellow means slightly dangerous surf, red means dangerous surf, and purple means dangerous marine life (typically excessive jellyfish). Dangerous surf doesn’t necessarily mean rough waves (though it can), but more importantly it’s warning you of strong currents; red often means rip tides. Solution? Don’t go out past your waist, make sure you and your kids know how to deadman/survival float and review how to escape a rip tide. Knowing how to relax and stay floating when you’re too tired to swim is a key beach safety concept.
You probably already know this, but playing in the sand and surf in that sun makes you mighty thirsty. But if you’re in the water you might not realize just how much water your body is losing in the heat. Pack lots of water, because those sugary beach treats only hydrate you so much. (Yes, we pack juices and snacks and junk, but always regret not packing enough water.)
7: Pack Lightly
So, the best beach days are those tricky balances of having all the fun food and equipment you want, without it turning into an expedition that requires three trips from the car. Bring what you need, not what you might need. A good beach read is a must, a beach bag with sunblock, towels, one bag of snacks, a small cooler (on wheels!), and chairs. (I recently ran across the concept of a backpack cooler and am fascinated by its possibilities for the beach. Anyone tried them??) We use chairs with built-in covers to eliminate the need for umbrellas. I finally got smart and bought these mesh bags to organize my beach bag. SO MUCH BETTER. They’re like packing cubes for your bag. Also wear flip-flops, because the ground gets HOT in the sun.
So those are our tips and guidelines for basic beach safety. Have fun and stay safe, my friends!