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Family Fun and Fitness: By the Water

5 Ways to Stay Safe at the Beach

When the weather warms up, the water warms up, and that’s a perfect time to enjoy family activities at the beach. To ensure that it’s all fun in the sun, here are five ways to stay safe while spending the day at the beach.

1. Check Weather and Water Conditions

When you wake up to clear skies and bright sunshine, a day at the beach practically plans itself. But, before you pack the cooler and the beach bags, be aware of weather and water conditions. A slight chop may be ideal for surfing or wake boarding, but could tire swimmers quickly — and may not be safe for inexperienced ones. Check conditions before you head to the beach so you know what to expect.

2. Pack Beach Bag Necessities

If the weather and water conditions cooperate, it’s time to pack your beach bag. Flip-flops are fine for walking to the sand, but for rockier bottoms or those lined with shells, swim shoes are a good save. For inexperienced swimmers, floatation devices are a must, as well as U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets — required if you’ll be boating. Bring along a cell phone and ensure that it’s fully charged in the event of an emergency. And, pack plenty of sunscreen. You’ll need to reapply frequently if you’re in and out of the water.

3. Prepare for the Sun

Before you even get your feet wet you’re exposed to the sun. Protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet rays by applying at least an ounce of sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 half an hour before you head outside. After time in the water and toweling off, reapply. Even waterproof sunscreens need to be reapplied after swimming and sweating. And, don’t forget your eyes! Wear sunglasses or hats with brims large enough to keep your eyes shielded from the sun.

4. Scan Your Surroundings

Once you’ve selected your spot in the sand, take note of your surroundings. Is a lifeguard on duty? What do the warning flags indicate? Is any part of the water roped off? Locate life rings or floatation device stations. Even test the waters for aquatic life — swim where there are fewer plants and animals — to avoid visibility obstructions and dangerous marine encounters.

5. Take a Break

A day in the sun can be exhausting — especially when it’s paired with water activities. To stay energized and hydrated, make sure you take regular breaks for water, snacks and rest. Bottled water travels easily, seals up and can be frozen the night before so that’s it’s extra cold when you want it most. Unsalted pretzels make a good beach snack, as do carrot sticks, raisins and pieces of frozen fruit. Rest is extremely important in avoiding fatigue in the water. Eat, drink and digest until you’re comfortable enough to head back to the fun!