Everyone looks forward to summer, don’t they? We always love chilled out holidays and taking time off from work, relaxing by the beach and hanging out with family and friends.
You can’t be too relaxed, however, because the Aussie beach can, unfortunately, be a dangerous place if you aren’t careful.
Here are some beach safety tips to help you look after your family without losing the fun and relaxation of a day beside the sea. You do need to be careful and stay alert, but it shouldn’t get in the way of having fun in the sun.
The two biggest tips for keeping your family safe at the beach this summer are to be careful with the sun and with the water. Both are lovely in moderation and when given the respect they deserve, but both can be life-threatening if not treated with care.
Never spend a day at the beach without protecting your family and yourself against the sun. Follow these basic SunSmart rules:
- Wear good quality sunscreen all over, at least SPF 15+
- Use waterproof sunscreen if you are going to play in the water
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or after you have been in the water
- Wear hats with wide brims, sunglasses and long-sleeved loose clothing or rash vests in the water
- Stay under the shade and out of direct sun between 11 am and 3 pm
Sun is still able to burn you on cooler days and cloudy days – it doesn’t just cause sun damage on directly sunny days. UV is still high any day, so make sure you keep to these rules and keep your kids protected as well.
Buy sunscreen that has a high SPF content and that you can easily get onto your children, even if they won’t stand still. Some of the newer spray ones are great for this.
Australians get a bad reputation across the globe for having some of the most dangerous beaches in the world. But staying safe at the beach isn’t as simple as watching out for sharks, as most of the biggest dangers are a bit more subtle and sneaky.
Even calm, serene seas can hold some hidden concerns, so don’t judge a book by its cover.
Only swim at beaches if you are a confident swimmer, and make sure that you teach all of your children to swim. Swim within the patrolled areas of public beaches and watch out for warning signs for rips, jellyfish and any other dangers in the water.
Don’t swim at beaches alone or at beaches that you aren’t familiar with. Swim with a buddy and make sure that you keep an eye on each other.
If someone is in trouble in the water they are more likely to go still and quiet than flail about and make a loud noise, so make sure you keep checking on each other visually, don’t just keep an ear out.
Don’t turn your back to the waves as they vary in size and strength, and you never really know what the sea has in store for you next.
Even beaches that you have been swimming at for years can change over time, with the ocean floor being worn away by weather and tides. There may be dips or ledges under the water that you aren’t aware of, so make sure you are a confident enough swimmer to look after yourself even if it suddenly gets a lot deeper than you expected.
Always tell someone where you are going even if you weren’t intending on swimming.
Supervise your children at the beach, don’t take your eyes off them. Use floating devices to keep your kids safe until they are strong swimmers.
Make sure that you have plenty of water to drink while you are at the beach to replenish any hydration you lose in sweat.
One of the best ways to keep water cool is to freeze bottles of water and then toss them in your esky just before you go. The iced water will keep any other food cool and will start to thaw over the day, giving you a lovely cool refreshing drink whenever you need it.
Be Smart with Alcohol
As Aussies, we tend to be partial to a drink when we are having a good time, but drinking at the beach is not a good mix. If you do want to have a drink or two on a day at the beach, make sure that you stay safe.
- Don’t drink too much. Think of drinking at the beach like drinking and driving, and keep yourself below the limit.
- Alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drink or water. Drinking alcohol dehydrates you even quicker when you are in the sun, so make sure you are drinking lots of water as well to accommodate for this.
- Drinking in the sun has a heavier effect on your capacities and can make you feel drunker, so take it easier than you would on a night out
- Don’t swim when you are drunk.
- Drinking in the sun can also make you sleepy; don’t nap in the sun unless you are fully protected against its harsh rays.
If you are having a drink at the beach make sure that someone else is with you, and preferably have at least one strong swimmer stay completely sober. But basically, the best advice is, don’t go in the water if you’ve been drinking.
Look after our Beaches
Stay on paths and off dunes and revegetation areas. Don’t leave any rubbish at the beach, make sure that you take everything with you. Don’t start fires or put out cigarettes.
Take care of Australia’s precious coastland and marine life. We would love for a great day at the beach to be something our children can enjoy with their children, and eventually their grandchildren.
Have fun, respect the sun and the sea and be safe. Don’t make this summer your last.
For more safety information on our beaches including local information on rips or closures visit https://beachsafe.org.au/