How to Keep Your Kids Safe at the Beach

August 28, 2023

Nothing screams vacation like a trip to the beach. And while long, lazy days basking in the sunshine may be the epitome of the perfect beach vacation for you, your kids may have different ideas. Depending on their age, they’re probably a little more active and will want to spend most of their days in our emerald waters. The Gulf of Mexico is a water playground, and they’ll no doubt want to play in the waves, paddle through the surf, and skimboard along the shoreline all day long. Although you want them to have fun, you also want to keep your kids safe at the beach. Before heading out, a few tips will ensure a care-free, fun outing for the whole family! 

Be Watchful

Whether it’s your first time to our beaches or you’re a repeat visitor, scope out the area and current conditions. Although our Gulf waters are generally known to be calm, changes in weather and tides alter conditions. If you’re camping out all day and not used to the sun and its effects, checking in with your kids regularly will ensure their comfort and safety.

Children can exhibit boundless curiosity and inexhaustible energy, but after being in the heat, they’ll tire and dehydrate quicker than under normal conditions. Bring plenty of water and fruit and encourage them to replenish fluids regularly. Be watchful as they enter the water and maintain proximity throughout the day. Remember that open water differs from swimming in a pool or lake, introducing new variables, including temperature, current, and depth changes. Additional attentiveness on your part will help keep your kids safe in and around the water!

Dress Kids in Bright Colors

When shopping for swimsuits, your kids may want to focus on style and fit, but don’t forget the importance of color. It’s much easier to keep an eye on the littles if they’re dressed in bright swimsuits. A colored rash guard, a shirt that protects against rashes caused by abrasion, or by sunburn from extended exposure, offers another layer of beach safety protection, shielding against the sun’s rays and providing an extra defense against minor abrasions and discomfort. They will also look adorable, and colorful duds will make them stand out like a beacon in a sea of swimsuits!

Use Proper Flotation Devices

Even for small children who know how to swim, a life vest or personal flotation device (PFD) isn’t a bad idea and provides safety in open water. Available in different styles and types, a properly fitting life jacket will make you and them feel better in unfamiliar territory. Those nifty flotation devices are like their trusty sidekicks, helping small children and inexperienced swimmers take on the water world with an extra confidence boost, like strapping on a superhero cape before leaping into action! 

Inner tubes and rafts are also great fun in the water, and kids love sharing large inflatable flotation devices. Let the kids have a blast playing on that huge pink inflatable flamingo, but be mindful that they’re no substitute for a PFD, and wind shifts can pull them away from shore. Staying in the water nearby will help prevent them from drifting away, and it’s an excellent way for you to snap some pics of all the fun they’re having!

Pick the Perfect Spot

You’ll find plenty of places to hit the beach in Destin, each with unique features and amenities, so look around before you go to find the perfect spot. Whether you want to float in gentle lapping waves at Henderson Beach State Park, explore shallow tidal pools at Norriego Point, or be near restaurants and shopping in Crystal Beach, you’re guaranteed a fun day out. 

If the kiddos plan to do more than build sand castles (as in playing in the water all day long), remind them to avoid swimming near pilings, piers, and jetties, as rip currents tend to form around permanent structures like these. Difficult to detect, these currents can be powerful and threaten even the most confident swimmers. Remind them to swim parallel to the shore should they encounter one, then swim back to land at an angle. Equipping your children with a basic understanding of potential threats will empower them to enjoy the water, maintain their beach safety, and give you peace of mind. 

Use Protection

It’s easy to forget about sunscreen once you hit the beach, so apply a high-SPF, waterproof sunscreen a half hour before heading out and reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days. Not all sunscreens are created equal, so opt for the ones that brag about being “broad-spectrum.” They’re the all-in-one deal, protecting you from UVA and UVB rays. Think of UVA as the wrinkle-causing culprits and UVB as the burn-inducing troublemakers. You want to show them who’s boss, so slather it on and often. And don’t forget those spots that often feel left out, like your feet and ears – they need love, too! 

Beach umbrellas, UV-protected cover-ups, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses will also offer protection and keep kids safe at the beach. And no problem if you forget to pack them. You’ll find cute beach shops throughout Destin and 30A, where you can stock up on all the essentials!

Understand Local Beach Flags

We want you to have the best possible time on our sugar-sand beaches and glistening waters, and each day is an opportunity for a new adventure! Even if you hit the beach yesterday, today’s conditions might differ, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with our beach warning flags before getting into the water. These flags aren’t just colorful decorations fluttering by the shore but a crucial communication system between beach authorities and beach-goers. Double red flags mean no swimming, while single red flags indicate high surf and potentially challenging swimming conditions. Purple flags denote stinging marine life, typically jellyfish or stingrays, in our area. Most commonly, the beaches of Destin and 30A fly yellow flags, representing moderate surf, or green flags conveying calm conditions, both green lights to hit the water!

If you have any questions, friendly lifeguards monitoring designated swimming areas would be happy to help. Like us, they want to keep your kids safe at the beach and for your time here to be as enjoyable as possible!

Sign Up for Vacation Deals

30A Destin fort walton beach High Pointe holiday isle Miramar Beach navarre okaloosa island panama city beach pensacola Seacrest Beach Seagrove Beach SunDestin Travel Guides WaterColor Watersound