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Beach Sport and Water Sports Safety

By: Mike Kiely BA (hons) - Updated: 4 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Water Paddle Sea Bed Shallows Distress

Oh, we all like to be beside the seaside. There’s nothing better than a hot day, with little in the way of breeze and the happy shouts and screams of the kids having fun and enjoying the feel of the sand between their toes. But in common with every interaction with water, it is always a good idea to be aware of the potential dangers.

This is especially true of younger children, simply because in all the excitement, danger is the last thing on their mind. While enjoying a paddle in the sea, for example, they can all too easily wander beyond the shallows. In some cases the sea bed will slope away more quickly than you would expect and, suddenly, a happy, laughing child is one in distress, and more importantly in trouble.

Armbands are an Absolute Must

Rule number one has to be that for any younger child regardless of their swimming ability, a flotation jacket or armbands are an absolute must. Yes, they may be an impediment when playing in the sand, but they are quite the reverse in the water. And don’t think that the presence of older siblings or the children of family friends are a substitute for safety wear. Yes, of course the older children have promised to take care of the younger ones, and they were all too sincere in offering to give the parents a little respite from child care. But older children are still children, and can be easily distracted by their friends.

As the parent, it is your responsibility alone for your child, so always ensure you have them in your sight – the holiday novel you are eager to finish will have to wait until the children are enjoying an afternoon nap.

As well as packing flotation aids in your beach bag, ensure you have lotions with high UV protection for all the family, and ensure you don’t leave it too late to hire an umbrella that can offer shelter from the heat of the sun. Those warm rays may seem a welcome reward for the trials and tribulations of the winter chill, but they can inflict serious damage, too.

Footwear is another essential, to prevent injuries from the sharp edges of shells and pebbles and man-made objects such as cans and bottles left by less environmentally conscious sun worshippers

The Sea Lapping on the Shore

Those who quickly tire of hearing the sea lapping on the shore may fancy a spot of beach rounders or volleyball. Always ensure that you clearly mark out the pitch so that other beach users can steer clear of the playing area, and use a soft ball when swinging a bat to avoid inflicting pain and injury on anyone nearby. And do please keep the noise to a minimum – not everyone wants their day punctuated by overly dramatic shouting and screaming.

If your idea of fun is to be found on the water, be it on a surfboard or windsurf board, ensure you have the correct kit and a buddy that has your back in case you get into trouble. Many beach resorts now offer watersports lessons, but before signing up check out the qualifications of the instructors, to ensure they are well drilled in both the sport itself and in ensuring the safety of pupils under instruction.

Safety considerations may sound like an attempt to spoil what should be a fun day out. But far from metaphorically kicking sand in everyone’s faces, erring on the side of caution will ensure everyone can head home with only happy tales to tell.

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