Northern Michigan’s beaches are a highlight of a summer Up North, but powerful rip currents, harmful rays from the sun and dehydration can cause a beach day to turn south fast. Follow these kids beach safety tips to keep the summer fun rolling on your vacation.

Stay Hydrated

While juice boxes and other fruity summer drinks might seem like the best way to treat yourself at the beach it is not the ideal way to keep hydrated. Water is a must for long days spent under the sun. Keep an eye out for symptoms of dehydration, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, can include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Very dry mouth and skin
  • Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion in adults.
  • Sunken eyes

Stay Protected and Shaded

Everyone wants a glow from the beach, but skimping on sunscreen is not a good idea. Make sure kids (and yourself!) are always wearing sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection and an SPF of at least 15. Just one blistering sunburn early in life can double your child’s risk of developing skin cancer. If you plan on spending a long day at the beach then be sure to bring an umbrella for shade. Long periods of time spent in the sun can result in a heat stroke in children. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of heat stroke can include:

  • Severe headaches
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Flushed, hot, dry skin

Seek medical attention if symptoms are serious, and get to a cool, shady spot to lower the body temperature of the heat-stricken.

Stay Safe When Swimming

Enjoying the waters of our Great Lakes is the reason we head to the beaches on summer days, but it’s important to be aware of the dangers the crashing waves of the lakes can present. Rip currents—where waves recede back into the water, creating an outward-flowing current—are a danger within the Great Lakes. Take caution when swimming in the lakes, always keep an eye on your children, and remind young swimmers of these suggestions from the US Lifesaving Association before they enter choppy water:

  • Swim sideways (that is, parallel to the) to escape the pull of the current.
  • Float down with the current until you reach the end and then swim back to shore.
  • Never try to swim against the current and panic; this is how most fatalities occur.

Stay Afloat and Warm in the Water

Our long winter has made our beautiful waters a bit chilly, and falling into water that is 60 degrees or cooler can cause panic, hyperventilation and hypothermia.  Sadly, child fatalities have occurred in Northern Michigan as a result of children falling into water from boats and succumbing to hypothermia.

Michigan law requires children ages 6 and under to wear a life jacket whenever they’re in a boat, and one personal flotation device must be readily accessible for every adult aboard.  For jet skis, both drivers and passengers must wear a life jacket, regardless of their ages.

If the water is cold, kids can wear wet or dry suits to combat the temperature, but these articles aren’t fail-safe. Don’t let kids stay in cold water for long—not that they’ll want to anyway. If paddling or boating, a location beacon is an insurance policy in case of an emergency; always leave a detailed plan of your day on the water with somebody on shore.

More for Kids:

Photo(s) by Kelly Rewa