Beach Safety for Kids

Nannies and Au Pairs Must Make Safety First Priority

By Diane Laney Fitzpatrick

Your ocean visits should be full of fun and adventure and free from accidents. Be prepared for dangers from the water, sand and sun, and practice beach safety.

Love Your Lifeguard
Set up your beach spot in an area manned by lifeguards. Lifeguards will warn you of sharks or other dangerous sea life nearby; they’re aware of undertows and perilous water conditions; they will enforce safe limits on swimming and they’re trained to spot distressed swimmers.

No matter how attentive a [caregiver] is, children of all ages are safest in areas staffed by trained lifeguards.

Sand Hole Dangers
Beach sand safety should be a top priority. Don’t let children dig deep holes and trenches in the sand. More than two dozen young people have been killed over the last decade when sand holes collapsed on them, according to a June 18 Associated Press report. People climbing in or falling in sand holes can become quickly buried when the sand collapses, making sand more dangerous and deadly than sharks, experts say.

Sea Life Dangers
Jellyfish, cone shells, stingrays, sea snakes, man-o-war, sharks, crocodiles, scorpions, and even some insects can turn your day at the beach into a trip to the hospital emergency room.

Teach children not to touch something in the water or on the sand if it might be alive, as colorful as it might be. It’s a good idea to wear beach shoes even when in the water, to avoid stepping on dangerous sea life, as well as sharp shells and rocks.

Sun Protection
Being on the beach, with the nearby water attracting the sun and a cooling, ocean breeze, you might be deceived into thinking the sun is not a danger. Even on an overcast day, the sun can cause serious sunburn on the beach.Use sunscreen often and liberally. When possible, cover skin with a loose t-shirt or a beach towel or cover-up, and wear a sun hat with a brim. See Sun Safety by Numbers.

Dangerous Water Conditions
Riptides, undertows, strong currents, high waves and rough surf can quickly become dangerous for even those in shallow ocean water. Be aware of the particular water safety hazards at the beach where you are and ask lifeguards if there are any signs you should watch for. Read more about water safety.

Storms crop up quickly and without warning on open beaches. The National Weather Service’s lightning safety recommendations say if you’re on the beach and you hear thunder or are aware of an approaching storm, you should go immediately to your car. Don’t seek shelter under beach picnic shacks, since they’re not safe in lightning storms. Wait 30 minutes after the last thunder crack before going back to the beach or driving home.

Crowded Beaches
Keep a close eye on children at the beach at all times. Crowded beaches make it hard to find your blanket spot, especially if you’ve been in the water and you’ve unknowingly moved with the current. Don’t let youngsters go off alone. Tell them to go to the lifeguard station if they get separated from the family.

Heat Exhaustion
Just because you’re near water doesn’t mean you’re getting enough water. Being in the sun can cause dehydration, especially if you’re running or playing on the beach. Bring plenty of drinking water to the beach with you and be sure the children take frequent water breaks.

Don’t let beach hazards keep you away from the fun. But be aware of beach safety rules and tips so you can prepare yourself for the best vacation ever.
Tomorrow we will share activities to do at the beach.
Will you be taking the children to the beach this summer?


  1. Although we spend the summer at the shore I do not take the kids to the beach alone. They are great swimmers but the mother is scared of the ocean. So, if the father joins us we go to the beach. Otherwise we can swim in the pool or play in the sand on the bay. The bay is much calmer.I used to be annoyed that the kids couldn't go to the ocean with me but now I don't want the kids going in the ocean with me alone. Too dangerous with rip tides and such.So, we play in the sand on the bay side. We can go to the ocean sand to collect shells, fly kites, as long as we wear our clothing so the mom is sure we won't go in the ocean without the father.Gia, Nanny of two

  2. The mother doesn't feel the need to apply sunscreen to her children so I have been buying sunscreen out of my own pocket. I never ever heard of a parent not applying sunscreen on the beach. (Perhaps in the backyard late day)? Very upsetting to me. I won't include my name so not to expose the family or myself.

  3. Yes we go to the beach and I am very careful and always alert. It annoys me when I see parents or sitters reading books while kids are in the ocean. I also feel many do not put enough sunscreen on the children.Kristen Mother and Nanny

  4. No sunscreen? Seriously? Weird stuff.

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