Kids UnderwaterWarm weather is right around the corner. It may have already arrived where you live. YAY!  Dust off that beach bag and let’s go swimming. Whether you go to the lake, ocean or pool let’s review some safety tips for having a great day in the sun.


-Did you put sunscreen in your beach bag? Is your sunscreen from last year? It probably needs “refreshed”.  Being bundled up and covered up all winter leaves our tender skin ripe for sun damage. Get yourself a (very) good waterproof sunscreen and use it. Damaged skin is forever. Nasty thought, isn’t it?


-Find a spot to sit near the lifeguard.  Most drownings occur at unguarded sites.


-WALK on the deck if you are at a pool.  It is wet. You can slip and damage your noggin.


-At the beach or lake? Those huge floats they are now selling are oh so cute. Personally I love the big yellow ducks. But they are not life-saving devices. They are “toys” and cannot save your life. They are plastic, can lose air or float away.  I know, I’m a meanie.


-A pet peeve of mine is the god-awful chewing gum. What is with that gigantic wad of gum in people’s mouths? I have seen people chew gum like cows, even while swimming their laps. And sometimes when I am teaching them to swim.  You could choke with that stuff in your mouth!! Argh.


-Never swim alone.  That rule has been around since I was a kid. And I been around forever.


-At the beach? Did you know what those ‘colorful flags” mean that they hang near the lifeguard chair? A red flag indicates strong surf and currents.  Learn what a “rip current” is. They are nasty and you never want to be caught in one. (Trust me, I have and I thought I was headed to Arizona underwater).  If you are caught in one learn how to get yourself out of it.  Usually the beaches are closed when the “red flag is up”.  A yellow flag means moderate surf and currents.  The water is likely to be rough.  It means “be careful” in the water. And a green flag means the ocean is calm or clear. Blue or purple flags often mean dangerous marine life….jelly fish or sharks.  Remember, not all beaches are suitable for swimming. Be cool and follow the rules.


-Do not dive into the ocean. There may be a sand bar beneath your feet and you can injure your neck! Do not dive into a pool unless it is marked JUST FOR DIVING!


-Check the weather! We all know it is a ‘no beach day’ if there is lightning in the forecast. Just like electronic devices and the bathtub do not mix.  The beach will always be there tomorrow. It’s too scary anyway.


-Ocean swimming is very different from doing your laps at the pool.  To me body surfing and using a boogie board is not ‘swimming’ in the ocean. Swimming in the ocean is when you swim parallel to the shore. It takes a lot of strength and endurance. There is no stopping like at the end of the pool wall to rest. Know your limits if you are going ‘swimming’ in the ocean. Bopping up and down and catching waves is not swimming. It’s just plain fun!


-Boating? Do you have your life jacket on? It is the law in every state. Every person must have a life jacket on at all times. Be warned –you will get busted by the Coast Guard or Harbor Patrol if you do not have a life jacket on.


-Keep hydrated at all times. That does not mean alcohol. Save that for later on the patio. Drink lots of water when you are out in the sun. Bring appropriate snacks for the day in a cooler.


Have fun in the sun and get everyone home safely.