Beach and sea sense
Whether you’re an early years teacher exploring a seaside theme with your children, or a parent planning a family beach picnic, here are some ideas for helping children have an exhilarating and safe day out.
What to take:
Help children think about what to take, such as sunscreen and hats (preferably with wide brims), sunglasses (do not let children wear toy sunglasses which can damage their eyes), baggy cotton tee-shirts, armbands, picnic, rug and sun umbrella, plenty of water, bucket and spade, and a kite if you have one.
Sun safety song
(Sing to the tune of ‘I had a little nut tree’)
‘When we’re at the seaside
On a sunny day
We must wear our T shirts
To keep sunburn away
Next we put on sun screen
And wear a shady hat
Then we put on sunglasses
And that is that!’
What not to take:
An inflatable. The RNLI strongly recommends that inflatables such as toys and airbeds should be kept on the beach only, and not taken into the sea, as it is very easy for them to be blown out to sea, even if the water looks calm; however, if they are used they must be secured on a line held by an adult. The adult must make sure that they stay within easy reach and the inflatable must only be used between the pair of red and yellow flags (see below). An inflatable must never be used when the orange wind-sock is flying, as this indicates offshore winds. Always take advice from the Lifeguard.
This message makes for wonderful small world water play! Use a piece of bubble wrap folded over and stick with sellotape, to make an ‘inflatable’. See children doing this in the film ‘Morgan at the seaside’ (See below).
When you arrive at the beach check out the safety signs and flags.
The red flag shows that it is dangerous to bathe or swim – or even paddle. Two red and yellow flags mean that Lifeguards are on patrol. People should only go in the sea between these two flags.
A chequered black and white flag means that this part of the sea is zoned off for watersport activities. Go to the Safety at the Beach section at rnli.org.uk/shorething .
Beach flag song
This will help children remember the rules about the flags on the beach.
(Sung to the tune of ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’).
‘Never swim when the flag is red
Remember what the Lifeguard said!
Only swim with a grown-up too,
And make sure they’re close to you!
Never swim when the flag is red
Remember what the Lifeguard said!’
Child safety advice
What to say to children:
Remind children to stay close to you at all times both on the beach and in the water, and tell them never to go into the water on their own
Point out the Lifeguards and tell your children to go to them if they do become separated from you, or point out a special place to go, such as a ‘lost child’ area, Lifeguard station or a beach shop
Make use of any beach safety schemes like wristbands, tickets, etc
Remind teenagers never to go off without telling someone, and never to go alone.
If you do lose sight of your child, tell the Lifeguard, who is normally positioned between the red and yellow flags, or dial 999.
The story’s the thing!
You don’t want to spoil a day at the seaside with too many dos and don’ts. Young children’s brains are hard-wired for narrative, and love a good story. ‘Morgan at the seaside’ is a delightful film for young children, telling the story of Morgan’s exciting day at the beach, when he meets the lifeguards and sees a lifeboat being launched and an exciting ‘rescue’. The film carefully weaves vital sun and sea safety messages into an absorbing story, that all the family can enjoy. Go to Child’s Eye Media .