Great Beach Tips, From Beach Packing to Riptide Safety

beach and shell wind chimes

We spend a lot of time on the beach.  During this time I’ve learned a few tricks that might make your own beach trip a lot more fun.  Here are some handy tips for a great day at the beach:

Open your water bottles the night before and pour a bit of the water out (preferably into a plant). Freeze the bottles.  On your beach day, take them out, top them off with more water and bring them to the beach. This will guarantee cold water as the ice melts throughout the day.

Are your kids bored? DIG A HOLE!  I’ve never seen a child bored while playing in a hole filled with water by the water’s edge.  Be sure it is a shallow hole, as many children have been killed in holes that have collapsed on the beach.  Ankle deep only, please! 

If there are shells on the beach, bring string that children can use to make necklaces or wind chimes with the shells that have holes.  Use a piece of drift wood for the top of a wind chime.

Always bring a cell phone in case of an emergency. 

Bring a small container of vinegar to the beach with you.  If anyone is stung by a jellyfish, rinse the sting with salt water – not fresh water.  Then pour vinegar over the sting.  When home, shave the area with shaving cream and a razor if the sting is not too painful.  Call 911 immediately if you or your family member has trouble breathing after the sting! 

Sand stuck to you with no water nearby for rinsing?  Take the little bottle of baby powder you’ve packed and sprinkle it over the sand on your body.  This makes the sand simply slide off! 

Looking for a great drink to bring on the beach?  My grandmother made a wonderful tea that my mother always brought on our childhood beach trips.  Today she still brings it, and my children call it “Grandma’s Special Tea.”  The flavor is wonderful and refreshing while the ingredients are simple.  Just pour a little bit of orange juice in your tea and add sugar to taste. Remember, orange juice comes with its own sweetness. That’s it!  Surprisingly, this makes a delicious drink after a long sea salt swim.

In our area, lifeguards spend more time finding the parents of lost children than they do saving lives.  This is dangerous.  Last year in Virginia Beach, lifeguards reported more than 130 children were lost and found in one day alone on the fourth of July.  A lost child is an easy target for a potential drowning.  If you are at the beach with a young child, consider a life vest and keep your child at your side at all times. 

Finally, the most important tip I can pass along.  Many people visit the beach who rarely get the opportunity to be near the ocean.  As a result, they have heard of rip tides but do not understand what to do if caught in one.  A rip tide occurs when a break develops in a sandbar, causing the water to flow out to sea like a rapid stream of water.  If you get caught in this, swimming forward or backwards does not get you anywhere. Then you may find yourself moving further away from the beach. If this happens, DO NOT PANIC.  If you can get the attention of a lifeguard or nearby swimmer quickly, do so.  But if you can’t, then you need to relax and begin to swim horizontally to shore.  In other words, do not swim OUT to sea and do not swim IN to shore.  Swim SIDEWAYS.  Picture your finger in a stream of water coming from a faucet.  If you move it up and down it will stay in the water. However, if you move it side to side it will go out of the water.  If you are not strong enough to get out of the riptide, let it carry you out.  You will be further from the beach, but once you flow out of the current you can safely move over and swim to shore.