It is important to think about swim safety when you are picnicking on the beach. A swim can be a great way to beat the heat but be careful to follow some simple water safety rules.
If you are at he beach remember swimming in the sea is very different from swimming in a pool. Waves can wash the sand from under your feet and knock you over and rips can carry can carry you out to sea.
Be particularliy careful if you are swimming on an isolated beach. On patroled beaches lifeguards erect safety signs and flags to mark the safest area to swim in.
Different countres have different warning and flag systems so make sure you are familiar with the one in your area
Never go for a swim if the "BEACH CLOSED" sign is up. This means that there are wild waves, rips or other dangers in the water.
A rip is a strong current that carries water built up on the beach back to the ocean.
They are often occur between sandbars or against rocks at the end of the beach. The strong current can drag you out to sea. It will only carry you out for a short way so try not to panic.
If you do find yourself in a rip and feel it pulling you out to sea float with the rip. It will eventually flow back onto the beach. If you try to swim against it you will only become exhausted.
Raise your hand to signal lifeguards that you are in trouble.
Even if the water looks calm take the lifeguards advice and swim between the flags.
Watch out for rips and learn to recognize them when you see them.
This video explains how rips work. Although the video talks about Australian beaches don't forget there are rips on many beaches in every country.
Keeping kids safe in the water is especially important.
They can so easily get swept away by big waves.
Teach your kids some swim safety so they can at least stay afloat.
If they can’t swim make sure they wear approved life jackets or water wings when they are playing in or near the water.
Never let small children go into the water alone. Keep them within easy reach.
Watch older children when they are in the water so that you can see them all the times.
While you are on the beach keep an eye out for changes in the weather, the wind and the water.
Bad weather and sea conditions can blow up very quickly so be prepared.
If you have a chance take a look at the webcam of the beach you are going to visit before you leave home. Then you will have some idea of the beach conditions and can plan your day before you leave.
If you are going to explore rock pools keep a sharp eye on the water.
The tide can come in and isolate areas of the beach. As an extra check look up the tide times before you leave home.
Learn some basic first aid skills including CPR. Take small first aid kit with you.
Find a list of things to include in your first aid kit here.
Take a bit of care and enjoy the water at your beach picnic worry free.