Spring break is upon us and summer will be here before we know it. Many families take vacations to the beach every year. There's nothing better than a warm, summer day spent playing in the sand and ocean. Although beach trips can make great family memories, it's important to follow a few basic beach safety tips to ensure a smooth trip:
Understand Beach Flags
If you've ever been to the beach, you've probably noticed different color flags waving depending on the day. These are beach safety flags and they are used to warn beachgoers of what the beach and the surf. There are 8 different colors that mean different things:
Yellow Flag = Medium Hazard - moderate surf or currents are present. With this flag, weak swimmers are discouraged from entering the water. For others, enhanced care and caution should be exercised.
Red Flag = High Hazard - rough conditions, such as strong surf or currents are present. All swimmers are discouraged from entering the water.
Red Over Red Flag = Water is closed to public use
The Purple Flag = Marine Pets Present - jellyfish, stingrays, sea snakes, etc. are present in the water and can cause minor injuries. Note: this flag does not include the presence of sharks.
The Red Over Yellow Flag = Recommended Swimming Area w/ Lifeguard Supervision - this flag indicates that the are is protected by lifeguards. These flags may be used in pairs spaced apart to indicate a designated zone along the beach that is most closely supervised by qualified guards.
The Quartered Flag = Watercraft Area - this flag is typically used in pairs spaced apart to indicate a zone along the beach that is used by those with surfboards and other non-powered watercraft.
The Black Ball Flag = Watercraft Use Prohibited - this flag is used to indicate that surfboards and other non-powered watercraft are prohibited in the area.
The Orange Windsock Flag = Offshore Winds Present - this cone-shaped device is used to indicate that offshore winds are present and inflatables should not be used.
It's important to never swim alone, at night, during storms, or while intoxicated. Be conscious of possible rip tides and currents and know how to get out of them. Swimming alone or at night puts you at great risk. Many people continue swimming after they hear thunder or see lightening. Whenever there are signs of a storm you should get out of water immediately and make sure that your children do too. Flash storms at the beach are very common, so don't worry, you'll be back enjoying the day in an hour or two.
Practice Sun Safety
We get it, you're at the beach and you want to soak up all the rays while you have the chance. Although it's tempting to spend all day in the sun, make sure you practice sun safety on your vacation. Remember to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Use sunscreen often, and reapply after swimming - this is especially important for children. For the best child sunscreens, read here. If you plan on being outside all day, try to wear protective clothing and bring an umbrella or beach tent, and don't forget those sunglasses to protect your eyes. Additionally, try to avoid the midday sun, which is the most intense. For our top tanning tips, read here.
Stay Close To Shore
When you're swimming in the ocean, it's important to remain close to shore as much as possible. It's tempting to go out further and further, but before you know it you are a long ways away from where you started and you put yourself at risk of being carried away by a rip current. Pick a landmark, such as a lifeguard stand or your hotel, and keep an eye on it as your swimming. Additionally, children should always be accompanied by adults in the ocean.
Following these basic beach safety tips can save your family or friends from a vacation disaster.