1 minute readHealth & Safety
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The Beach Is Not a Pool – Plus 5 More Things to Keep in Mind

Post by Dr. Linda Quan, Vice-Chair of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council (SAC)

As summer brings another wave of hazy, hot and humid weather, many of us will be taking to the nation’s lakes and coasts in search of refreshing waves and cool breezes. The beach is an ideal place for a hot weather getaway, but it’s important to remember that that the ocean and large lakes can be as dangerous as they are fun.

Keep your family safe at the seaside with the following tips from the American Red Cross:

  1. Don’t be fooled; it’s not a pool. Unlike pools, oceans are unpredictable. They don’t have easy edges, and the water can get suddenly deep or shallow. The waves are always moving and changing and can have enough force to knock you into deeper water. Be alert to changes.
  2. Find a guard. Only swim where there is a lifeguard. Lifeguards not only keep watch for swimmers in trouble, they will alert you to unsafe conditions such as stinging jellyfish, hidden sandbars that could endanger divers, rip currents and rough seas.
  3. Watch your wee ones. Remember that lifeguards are not babysitters. It’s up to you to keep watch over your kids. Always keep children within arm’s reach of strong swimmers and stay extra close around waves that might knock little ones down.
  4. Use your noodle – but only in the pool. Water wings, floaties and noodles are not for lakes or oceans. These inflatables can put kids in dangerince they can float away and may not stay buoyant .  They are not safety devices. Use only US Coast Guard approved life jackets.
  5. The heat can creep. Even if you are in the water all day and there’s a breeze, keep hydrated and re-apply sunscreen frequently.  Check on kids and remind them to drink and rest in the shade of an umbrella between playtimes in the waves.
  6. Know before you go.  Make sure your family is water competent before you hit the beach with Red Cross Learn-to-Swim classes. Be prepared for a beach or heat emergency- learn CPR  in a Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class.

Take your fun and your ocean seriously, and your “dog days” will be safe days at the beach.

Bonus! Here are a few more tips from fellow Scientific Advisory Council Member Roy Fielding.

Dr. Quan is Vice-Chair of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council (SAC). The Council is a panel of nationally recognized experts drawn from a wide variety of scientific, medical, and academic disciplines. The Council guides the Red Cross on preparedness and emergency practices that align with the latest evidence-based scientific and medical knowledge.