With the school holidays upon us and the summer sun blazing down, now is the time of year when millions will be thinking of heading to the beach.
Whether you plan to spend a whole holiday on the coast or just head there for the day, this promises to be a great time for the family. Many parents will be happy to soak up the sun and get into some holiday reading while the kids are kept amused by the warm sand, fascinating rock pools and incoming tides.
The question is, how do you make the absolute most of your days by the sea while avoiding the potential mishaps and problems that can occur on the beach?
Stay fed and watered
You should usually find plenty to eat and drink on the seafront near the beach, unless you are going somewhere quite remote, in which case you should stock up on food before you set off. In the latter case, now may be a good time to bulk-buy some discount soft drinks to keep the kids lubricated.
Hot summer days can easily lead to dehydration, which will mean very unhappy kids and can contribute to sunstroke, which in severe cases can lead to hospitalisation.
It’s also important to control the risks of sun with sunhats and lots of sun cream, especially if you have pale skin. Reapply it every couple of hours and after swimming.
Sadly, one major problem you may face at the seaside comes from seagulls. They may be as much a part of the coastal scene as sandcastles and seaweed, but they are a potential menace at times because some people are unwise enough to feed them, training them to think that humans are simply walking butlers bringing their next meal.
That can lead to them swooping on you to steal your food, as well as being an intimidating presence with their sharp beaks and flapping wings.
It’s not just that you should avoid watching any Alfred Hitchcock films; A study published in 2019 by the University of Exeter found they only swoop on those who are not looking at them. On the other hand, if you stare at them, they will stay away. .
It’s not just from the air that you may encounter an animal whose feeding habits may cause a problem. Crabs can give you a nip, although it’s unlikely you will encounter one big enough to do any serious damage. But if there are jellyfish in the water, it’s important to take care and consider not swimming if there are a lot of them.
Luckily, British waters don’t contain a lot of stinging jellyfish and definitely not any of the deadly species found elsewhere, like the notorious box jellyfish in Australia, so any stings you do get will be mild.
Sands and tides
Finally, it’s always important to take local advice about safety. Check if there are places you shouldn’t swim because of strong currents, where the tide comes in very fast or where there is a quicksand risk. The latter is particularly important in places like Morecambe Bay.
None of these potential downsides should put you off having a day at the beach. They are simply steps you can take to make sure your visit is a time of fun and smiles, and not one that ends in tears.