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How to keep your family safe on the beach

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Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2019

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It’s the time of year when millions of South Africans go to the coast to relax and soak up the beauty of our beaches. There is no better place to be in December, but it’s important to remember that there are risks involved.


If you are visiting with children, including infants, or just heading down with friends, there are a number of things to remember, from skin safety and water safety to keeping your possessions safe.


Here are a few top tips to ensure you have a fantastic holiday and enjoy the beach, and that you get home safe and sound, with only good memories to share.


Beach-safety tips


The beach is a great place to enjoy your holiday, but there are a few guidelines to ensure you and your family are safe at all times:


  • Only swim when there are lifeguards on duty.
  • Only swim in the designated swimming area, which is in between the flags – these indicate a safe, supervised swimming space.
  • If you are in trouble in the ocean, raise your arm to alert the lifeguards and try not to panic.
  • If you see someone in trouble in the water, alert the lifeguards.
  • Don’t swim while under the influence of alcohol.
  • If there is a tidal pool, swim there because it is generally safer. Stick to low tide when the waves are not crashing over the barrier.


Shark safety


  • Avoid swimming or surfing if birds or seals are feeding nearby.
  • Don’t swim near river mouths.
  • If you are bleeding, get out of the water as soon as possible.
  • Don’t swim out too deep and stay on the beach side of the breakers.
  • Keep an eye out for the shark warning flags and ensure you can see them when you are in the water.
  • If a shark has been spotted nearby, consider going to another beach for the day if you want to swim or surf.
  • If you are a first-time visitor, research the area to find out about any shark sightings or activity in that area.


Sun protection


The South African sun is harsh and sunburn can ruin a holiday, as well as cause permanent damage. Here’s how to keep you and your loved ones’ skin safe in the sun:


  • Always use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 20 (the higher, the better) when you are in the sun.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Stay out of the sun during the hottest time of the day, which is between 11 am and 3 pm.
  • Make sure children have plenty of sunscreens on, and reapply it regularly.
  • Protect skin with sunhats and enough clothing, and stay in the shade where possible.


Keep our beaches clean


Our beaches are a national treasure and it’s important that we remember to leave them even better than we found them. Here are a few ways you and your family can protect our coastlines and preserve our marine life for future generations:


  • Don’t litter. Rubbish can be dangerous to beachgoers and also harms our precious marine life, so take home whatever you bring with you.
  • If you see any litter on the beach, pick it up, even if it isn’t yours. It’s our responsibility to keep our beaches clean and protect the oceans and what lives in them.
  • Keep your dogs on a lead, unless you are in a designated area, and remember to pick up after them.



The information contained in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.


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