10 Ways to Keep Your Family Safe at the Beach

Carolina and Kure Beach are two of the most family-friendly destinations on the North Carolina Coast.

Heading to the beach for a great sun-filled day of fun is, for many of us, the perfect vacation. Carolina and Kure Beach are two of the most family-friendly destinations on the North Carolina Coast. Our beaches offer families miles of pristine beaches, a wonderful boardwalk, and loads of local attractions for your family to enjoy. However, nothing can spoil a family vacation like having a member of your family get sick, or seriously injured. This week we talk about 10 ways to keep your family safe on your next North Carolina Beach vacation.

Know Your Depth Before Diving

Every year there are hundreds of deaths and injuries caused by people diving into water that is too shallow causing serious spinal cord injuries of death. NEVER dive into water that you do not know the depth of. Marshes, ponds, lakes and the Ocean are all causes for concern as you can rarely see the bottom to determine the depth. Additionally even if you can see the bottom it is often hard to judge the depth of the water accurately. Pools with diving boards are usually designed to be a safe depth. If you do not see a diving board it is safe to assume the water is too shallow to dive in. Make sure to warn your children and watch them particularly around unfamiliar areas or bodies of water.

Alcohol and Water Don’t Mix

Having a cool drink of your choice is as much a beach tradition as making a sand castle. However, alcohol and swimming don’t mix. Even a slight impairment can hinder your physical coordination, impair your judgment all of which can cause a serious risk of drowning. Alcohol also causes the body to dehydrate quickly which can be very dangerous on a hot summer day. If you are going to drink make sure to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and staying away from the water.

Pay Attention to Local Warnings

Almost all municipalities and beaches use a flag warning system to alert people of potential dangers, changes in weather and water conditions. The local news is also a great resource and if you are heading out to the beach for the day you should definitely check the local newscast and weather report. Warning flags are easy to understand. Here are the standard flag meanings in the US.

Red Flags-If you see Red Flags you know there are strong ocean currents and rough seas, often this will mean the beach is closed for the day and too dangerous to be enjoyed. Stay out of the water when you see Red Flags. 
Yellow Flags-An indication of moderate surf and currents Yellow Flags can mean a lot of fun in the Ocean especially for surfers, but the water is likely to be rough and you’ll want to keep the little ones close by. 
Green Flags-Green indicates the water is calm or clear and perfect for swimming. But don’t let your guard down you still need to be aware of your surroundings. 
Blue or Purple Flags- These often indicate the presence of a potentially dangerous form of marine life like jellyfish. Use caution when seeing these and seek local advice on what you might need to be aware of.

If you have any doubts you can always check the conditions by asking one of the local life guards. Both Kure and Carolina Beach have lifeguards on duty during the summer months making our beaches particularly safe for families. 

Take Breaks and Stay Hydrated

Sitting back enjoying the sun on the beach or exploring Kure or Carolina Beach with one of the many available adventures can be taxing on the body in the summer. With temperatures in the high 80’s or 90’s, it doesn’t take long to become dehydrated quickly. When planning a day on the beach make sure to pack a cooler with water or Gatorade. Try and avoid alcohol, and soda as both of these tend to cause dehydration. Get plenty of time out of the sun as well. Use an umbrella or seek the air conditioning to make sure you stay cool. Heat stroke is no laughing matter can quickly ruin your vacation. A great tip is to freeze a small towel then put in in your cooler. When you get hot you can wrap this around your neck for a quick cool down. For the little ones and the elderly, it is especially important to stay hydrated and cool.

Avoid Bottles, Hooks and Jellyfish

The beach is an often a wonderful place to explore. With tidal pools and waves, it is a true wonderland, particularly for kids. I remember as a child finding a washed up lobster pot and thinking it was a pirate treasure. Kids are inquisitive and it is important to make sure they understand some things are better left alone on the beach. Teach kids to avoid old fish hooks and broken bottles. While marine life is interesting and fun, make sure kids understand that not all things that wash up on the shore are harmless. Jellyfish make pack a wallop when they sting but at the same time they are also beautiful and interesting and that is a magnet for kids.

Go Inside When You See Lightning

North Carolina is famous for beautiful weather and well famous for rapidly changing weather. Lightning is often a dangerous and familiar event along the North Carolina coast. Lightning can strike the ground up to ten miles away from where it occurs in the sky which makes it particularly dangerous for those on the beach. During your North Carolina Beach Vacation if you see clouds and lightning off the coast make sure to head indoors immediately. Don’t wait till the storm gets too close. Remember the lightning might be far off but it can strike far away. Don’t worry there will be plenty of beautiful weather during your Kure and Carolina Beach vacation but better prepared than not.

Flotation Devices Save Lives

Your Kure and Carolina Beach vacation is the perfect time to try new things, like kayaking and SUP both of which are exciting and fun sports. However, for many folks, these are new activities and well enthusiasm often gets the best of us. Make sure to utilize personal flotation devices to ensure you have a safe and fun time on the water. If you have little ones that are unfamiliar with their surroundings or not strong swimmers make sure they wear a PFD as well. For the really little ones, there are lots of great swimsuits that have flotations build into them and make a great safe solution.

Protect Your Skin 

Sunburn can ruin even the best day on during your Carolina or Kure beach vacation. While we have loads of beautiful Carolina blue skies and warm sun, too much of anything can be a problem. Protecting your skin is an essential requirement of any day on the beach. This is even more important for the little ones whose skin is sensitive.  When picking a sunscreen make sure to pick one that is waterproof for your day on the beach. Sunscreen should be applied prior to leaving the house on dry cool skin for maximum protection. Make sure to re-apply sunscreen throughout the day. Rash shirts and hats are also a great way to add additional protection. Don’t forget to bring an umbrella to give yourself a cool spot out of the sun. Look for sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 30.

Riptide Awareness

Swimming in the Ocean with crashing waves, and the wind is both fun and exhilarating. After all, it is why we all came to the beach. However, swimming in the Ocean is not like swimming in a pool. The water is dynamic every changing force that brings with it both magic and potential trouble. Luckily with a little planning and research you can be well prepared to enjoy the Ocean safely.

The first rule is to know your limits. If you are not a strong swimmer make sure to stay in shallow water and close to others who can. Respecting the power of the Ocean is important. Even strong swimmers can quickly become exhausted if caught in a riptide. One of the first things you need to learn is how to free yourself from a riptide in the event you find yourself caught in one. Most victims of rip currents make the mistake of trying to swim to shore which is actually going to be physically exhausting and likely impossible. This is how most drownings involving rip currents occur. Instead you want to swim parallel to shore. Often this is counter intuitive as the current will carry you away from shore at first. Stay calm and do not fight the current. Focus on preserving energy and staying afloat. Slowly work your way parallel to shore. When you feel the current ease then you can swim to shore. 

Have A Plan

It can happen to even the most attentive of parents. The nightmare of being separated from your children. Thankfully this is an exceedingly rare event, but one you still need to have a plan for. Make sure your children know if they are lost to seek help from a police officer, fireman or other emergency services personnel. Practice with them by having them identify these folks while walking or driving around the area. Remind the children of your families’ designated place to meet. This way if there is a problem one member of your family or group can go to that designated place. Instill in your children the importance of telling the officer where that place is. Maybe it is by the “big Ferris wheel” keep it simple. With so many fun activities and family events on Kure and Carolina beach our dedicated Emergency Services professionals have years of experience ensuring Carolina and Kure Beach remain one of the safest places to vacation on the East Coast.