Beach Safety: Social Distancing and Sandcastles
Take a look at the beach safety tips we rounded up to have a safe beach day filled with sun and sand!
Heading to the beach is a quintessential summer activity, and in the times of COVID-19, it feels like a great relief from self-isolating at home. Recently, we hit the beach to find a new way to social distance, but still have fun. The answer? Sand.
We partnered with sandcastle artists to create structures that inspire safety, while also promoting social distancing. Our goal is to unlock new and innovative ways to enjoy the summer in your community while making it safe for everyone. Whether it’s a long weekend or midday visit, we have plenty of beach recommendations to protect yourself, as well as others, while enjoying a day in the sun.
Social distancing is critical
This season, public beaches are hot spots. People are eager to spend time outdoors, and may be looking for alternative summer activities. However, issues of overcrowding and lack of social distancing has some municipalities concerned about the safety of opening beaches while trying to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Social distancing should be your first priority for a day at the beach. Plan your visit around off-peak hours, or choose a less populated beach. When you’re packing a beach bag, be sure to include face masks and hand sanitizer. Carrying some extra towels is great as well — you can use them to stake your claim in the sand, creating a socially-distanced beach spot. If public facilities such as washrooms, showers, or water fountains are available for use, make sure you take precautions while using them; keeping your distance, wearing a mask, and practising good hygiene are all key to keeping your beach day safe.
Water needs to be respected
Being vigilant along the shoreline and in the water is essential while you’re at the beach, as the situation can change in an instant. Children can drown in less than two inches of water, so parents need to keep an eye on their children at all times. Open water can be a tricky environment; testing swimming skills with choppy waves, rough rocks underfoot, and variable water depth. Swimmers need to be aware of boaters as well as other watercraft users when heading into deeper waters. If you’re unsure of what you’re getting into, look out for a beach safety sign on shore, outlining rules and potential risks.
It’s recommended that children wear a personal floatation device that’s been approved by Transport Canada, Coast Guard Canada, or Fisheries and Oceans Canada, both in and around the water. Make sure it is an appropriate size for the child’s weight and age, and all buckles and belts are fastened securely.
Keep in mind, a life jacket doesn’t mean a child no longer needs supervision — with drowning being one of the most common causes of death for children under five, you should still keep a close eye on your kids at all times, whether they’re in or around the water.
Not a confident swimmer yourself? Consider wearing a life jacket as well, and swim at beaches with lifeguards in attendance. Be sure to take note of beach safety flags on the shore, which can inform you of swimming conditions.
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Weather conditions may change rapidly
Check the weather forecast before you head out for the beach. Hot, humid days of summer can translate into rapidly changing weather, with potential for thunderstorms and high winds. Swells in lakes may increase, making it increasingly difficult to swim or navigate. If you’re used to swimming in a pool, these sudden changes can come as a shock, and exhaust even the most proficient swimmers.
Watersports should be done with care
For some, being on the water rather than in it is the perfect beach day. Boats, paddling or jet skiing are all amazing ways to experience the summer, but each comes with their own risks. Impaired boating, whether it is drugs or alcohol, is dangerous and illegal, with serious consequences to your driver’s licence on land. Best bet? Save the partying for later, after you’re back on shore.
If you’re renting a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard, make sure you’re confident with the equipment before heading out, and that you have all the necessary safety supplies. Check with the rental company about safe places to explore, as well as any navigational hazards to look out for. Stay close to shore, and keep a close eye on the weather and water conditions.
Prep for a fun day at the beach
To guarantee a fun day at the beach, a little bit of preparation can go a long way. Packing sunscreen and lots of water ensures a sunburn or dehydration won’t slow you down. Bringing snacks is a great idea, and keeping them cool to maximize food safety is even better. Some beaches allow for barbecues on site — check local regulations in advance, so you’re ready to get grilling. Finally, even with social distancing measures in place, pick a meet-up spot once you arrive at the beach. If kids get lost or separated from their parents, reuniting will be a lot easier with a predetermined location.
COVID-19 has changed the way we play, but doesn’t have to spell out the complete cancellation of plans. With a bit of preparation and well as an eye towards basic safety measures, a day at the beach can be just what you need to relax and rejuvenate — while socially distanced, of course!