Saturday, May 1, 2010

5 Tips for Hitting the Beach with Kids

As summer approaches South Floridians will be spending more and more time at Fort Lauderdale’s pristine beaches.  It is important to make sure that this is a safe and fun event for the entire family.  By checking the warning flags and following these five tips beach goers will be able to make the most of a day at the beach with the family.
Tip # 1:  Only swim at guarded beaches.  Chose a beach with a guard and locate your family’s spot near them.  Fort Lauderdale has two-miles of ocean rescue tower guarded beaches from 1014 Seabreeze Boulevard to 1200 N. Atlantic Boulevard.  According to Fort Lauderdale Ocean Rescue “Most water-related fatalities occur in unsupervised settings distant from lifeguard towers.” 
Tip # 2: make sure to know what flags are flying.   Ocean Rescue fly flags at the beach to help beach goers avoid hazard.  GREEN FLAG - Low Hazard: Conditions are calm; normal care and caution should be exercised.  YELLOW FLAG - Moderately Hazardous Conditions: Moderate currents and/or surf are present; use extra care.  RED FLAG - Very Hazardous Conditions: Rough surf and/or strong currents exist; swimmers are strongly discouraged from entering the water.  DOUBLE-RED FLAG - Closed to the Public: The water and/or beach are closed to the public due to severe currents and/or surf, water pollution, the threat of lightning, or the presence of predatory fish.  PURPLE FLAG - Marine Pests: Jellyfish, man-of-wars, and/or sea lice are present. This flag may be flown along with any of the other flags.  City of Fort Lauderdale Ocean Rescue page will give you a detailed report on water condition and what flags are flying and be checked before leaving home.  
Also  the Surf Report  can help you make sure that you will have a great day at the beach. The surf report will tell you the size of the waves hitting the beach so that you make sure that the waves are ones that your family can handle.
Tip # 3: Sun protection and hydration are key.  Drink plenty of water, slather on the sunscreen and wear a hat.  Children are particularly susceptible to dehydration and will not always notice when they are thirsty so they must be reminded to drink often.  There are some great swim gear that has built in SPF available now.  These suits are little more expensive but are well worth it and they are an easy way to stay protected. 
Bringing unbrellas or small kids tents offer the kids a way to play in the sand and get out of the sun a little bit.  Staying out of the intense midday summer sun is also a good idea.  10:00  to 3:00 is the hottest part of the day so hitting the beach before 10:00 am or after 3:00 can go along way to keeping beach goers more comfortable and safer.
Tip # 4:  Know what to do in a rip current.  A rip current is a powerful narrow current that can pull swimmers away from the beach.  Swimmers caught in such a current  can become exhausted trying to swim against it and drown in the process.  Experts recommend swimming parallel to the beach and out of the rip current.  The swimmer should then be able to swim back into the beach.  
The United States Lifesaving Association estimates that the annual number of deaths due to rip currents on our nation's beaches exceeds 100.   Rip currents account for over 80% of rescues performed by surf beach lifeguards.”  
Tip # 5:  Be aware of Jelly fish.  Jellyfish can be a serious hazard for beach goers.  Jellyfish stings can be anything from uncomfortable to severe and can require immediate treatment.  Rinse the inflicted area with ocean water not fresh water.  Fresh water can and will increase the pain caused by the sting.  Pour vinegar or rubbing alcohol on the inflicted area.   More severe reactions will include difficulty breathing and intense pain.  Ocean Rescue are trained to deal with emergencies like these and this is yet another reason for beach goers to visit a Guarded beach.  Remember that you can be stung long after the animal is dead, so where rubber soled water shoes while walking on the beach and use caution when digging in the sand near the water line.

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