It’s official – life really is a beach! And it’s a natural habitat for children who love a pilgrimage to the sea. After all, there are the delights of collecting seashells, paddling barefoot in the shallows and meeting the wildlife upon the shore. And with more than 11,000 miles of UK coastline, you can find everything from rock pools and sheer cliffs to sand dunes and salt marshes.
Families who holiday in the Mediterranean will be used to relatively still and predictable waters” says Steve Williams, a watch officer with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). “However, beaches in the UK are very different from those abroad.”
Wherever you decide to hit the beach, safety is paramount. For babies and toddlers, pack a small, inflatable pool where they can play a safe distance from the sea, then plant a large umbrella over the top to guard against the sun. For older children, teach them the SAFE message before you arrive: Spot dangers; Always go with a friend; Find and read safety signs; and, in an Emergency, put up your hand and shout for a lifeguard. When you arrive, point out the lifeguard and choose landmarks near your position to help children find you.
All swimming should be closely supervised, and it is wise to avoid floatable swimming aids like lilos as tides move extremely fast and can sweep your child out to sea in no time. If there is an emergency, your natural instinct may be to jump in after your child. “Unless you are a trained lifesaver, you will also be in danger, and you won’t be able to call the lifeguard once you’re in the water,” says Steve. If there is no lifeguard around, call emergency services.
This article previously appeared in Junior magazine as a print article