ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Swim Smart This Summer

Updated on May 30, 2015

Before you go

With summer now in full swing, your kids will no doubt be asking, “When can we go to the beach?” If you are like most parents, your answer will be positive. A day on the beach is one of the best ways to have fun, relaxation and exercise, but before you gather up your swimsuits and towels, here are some things you should know.

Before you leave home:

1. Do your homework. Check out which are the safest beaches for children. You want a beach that not only has clear water and white sand, but one where the water is calm and gentle so your children can play safely. Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida has been rated one of the best beaches for kids by Best Kid Friendly Travel. According to them, the sugar-white sand on this beach stays cool even on the hottest days, protecting little feet from burns. The beach also has year-round lifeguard protection.

2. Follow the weather news. Most radio and TV stations give information on the weather. In Florida especially, the weather can change suddenly. You don't want your day to be ruined by a sudden thunderstorm. The news will also alert you to any riptides, the UV index (the amount of radiation expected to reach the earth's surface when the sun is highest in the sky) and even the presence of sharks.

3. Speak to your kids about water safety. Let them know they are not to go into the water without you - even if they can swim. Older children should also be taught to swim with a friend or parent. Teach them that swimming in the ocean is different from swimming in a pool.

4. In addition to packing the fun things your children love - bucket, spade, toys etc., pack a plentiful supply of water, your sunglasses, hats and sunscreen. (More on that later).

5. Lather yourself and your child liberally with sunscreen before leaving home.

At the beach

You have made it this far, now it's time to have some fun, while still paying attention to safety.

1. Look for specially designated areas for swimming. In 2005, the Florida Legislature came up with a uniform standard of beach safety by requiring that all beaches in Florida display only the flags used for the state's warning system. The flags come in four different colors - red, yellow, green and purple, with red being high hazard, yellow, medium, green, low and purple signaling the presence of dangerous marine animals. Most beaches in other states have some sort of warning system.

2. Be vigilant. Swim close to your children in the water. Do not let them go in the water alone. Look out for water animals and plants. Don't depend entirely on the flag warning.

3. Stay away from piers and jetties where rip currents may develop. If you do get caught in one, don't fight it. Swim parallel to the shore until you feel the strength of the current lessen then turn and swim to shore.

4. Don't float where you can't swim.

5. If you or someone is in difficulty, yell for help, wave or do whatever you can to attract attention. Throw the person something that floats - a ball, cooler or life jacket.

Protect children from the sun

There's something about sunshine that lifts our spirits and makes us want to be outdoors. However, according to the American Cancer Society, people who get a lot of exposure to the sun's UV rays run the risk of getting skin cancer. Therefore, in order to protect your skin and your child's from the dangerous UVA and UVB rays of the sun, you need to use adequate protection.

Let's talk about your skin. UV light is strongest between 10.00 a.m and 2.00 p.m, the hours when you are most likely to be on the beach and can get sunburned. Water reflects sunlight, and can also reach below the surface, so you can still burn even when you are in the water. Whether you are dark-skinned or light, you can suffer from sun damage. So, how do you protect your skin when swimming?

As I mentioned above, you should already be wearing sunscreen by the time you arrive at the beach. The amount you put on should be about an ounce or as much as a shot glass. Be sure to cover all the exposed parts of your body - even your lips by using lip balm with sunscreen. A sunscreen of 30 SPF (sun protection factor) or more is recommended. This gives you 30 times the amount of time you would normally burn. So if you normally burn after 10 minutes, 30 SPF will give you 30 x 10 = 300 minutes protection from UVB rays - the kind that causes sunburn. However, remember that sunscreen - even the water resistant kind - washes off when you swim or sweat, so you would need to reapply it when you come out of the water.

Can you go without sunscreen on a cloudy day? The answer is no. The UV index may be just as high, or even higher.

Wear sunglasses. Cataracts and other eye diseases can result from over exposure to UV rays. Purchase sunglasses with labels that say “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements”, according to the American Cancer Society. This means they block at least 99% of UV rays. Darker glasses do not offer more protection since protection comes from a chemical applied to the lens. Get real sunglasses for your children as well, not toys. Let them learn to protect their eyes early.

Wear a hat. While you are out of the water eating, building sand castles or just relaxing, wear a hat or cap - one that will not be blown away by the wind. Tie a small towel around your ears and let it hang down at the back to protect the back of your neck. You can also purchase SPF swimwear and outfits for when you are in the sun.

Encourage children to drink lots of water even if they are not thirsty.

So to recap. In order to get the most out of your visit to the beach you should:

1. Swim only on safe beaches and in designated areas

2. Talk to your children about water safety before you leave home.

3. Swim close to your children. Don't allow them to go into the water by themselves, even the older ones.

4. Use sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.

5. Drink lots of water.

What is your favorite summer pastime?

See results

Some last words

Going to the beach is one of the best ways for a family to spend time and have fun together, however you do not want lack of knowledge or preparation to prevent you from enjoying this pastime. You need to be as careful in shallow water as you would be if you were way out surfing, and you wouldn't be doing that with young children anyway. According to the US Coast Guard, 9 out of 10 drownings occur in inland waters, most within a few feet of safety.

As an added precaution, parents should learn CPR. You can do it online, but it's not the same as taking a hands-on course with instructors present to guide you. Contact your local Red Cross or community college. Either of these will be able to help you.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • quildon profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Joseph 

      3 years ago from Florida

      That must have been awful, Jackie. No wonder the beach was deserted. We can't be too careful where our children are concerned. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This really is important for parents to pay attention to! When our children were small we stopped at a deserted looking beach in South Carolina thinking it was great and then we read a sign that a little girl had been sucked right into the sand...never to be seen again! Can you imagine the horror of that?

      There are so many things to have to think of that a beach already named safe is certainly the best bet!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)