Swimming Between The Flags
Australia is an exquisite country with some of the most gorgeous beaches, but with that beauty also lies danger. The ocean can present a lot of peril for even an experienced swimmer, never mind a young child who is just learning to swim. That’s why it’s vital that you follow the rules and regulations of the beach whilst there with your child.
On a day out with babies and kids it is always best to keep to beaches that are patrolled with lifeguards. The number one rule is to always swim between the beach flags (the flag which is red and yellow and indicates a patrolled swimming area). Different flags mean different things; here are some of the flags and their meanings
The reason that you and your child should always swim between the flags is that this is the area that is marked out as secure for swimming and is patrolled by lifeguards. If you are uncertain about the surf conditions it is best to be safe and speak to a lifeguard about your reservations before taking your child into the water. In addition to swimming between the flags, there are a couple of other safety precautions you can take to make your child’s beach swimming experience a happy and protected one, some of these safety hints are:
- Have a quick look at the safety signs around the beach, just to make sure there are no apparent dangers, and that you know the conditions of the ocean
- You should never let your child swim alone. They should be supervised by adults the whole time they are at the beach
- Stick your hand up if you or your child needs help, stay calm and don’t try to fight the current, help should arrive soon
- Wait an hour before letting your child swim. After a meal blood flow is increased to your child’s stomach this means less blood is available to deliver oxygen to the exercising muscles and without oxygen the muscles may cramp causing your child not to be able to stay afloat
- Swimming at night is never a good idea because life guards and swimming flags are not present after dark and you could easily lose sight of your child
Most drowning at beaches happen where swimmers have strayed from between the flags and got into some trouble with rips and big waves. Don’t underestimate the power of the ocean, be safe and always remain between the beach flags.
Coastal Watch has web-cams set-up across Australia and they are great for checking surf conditions before visiting the beach. Surf Life Saving Australia also has great information regarding Australia’s beaches and the services that they provide to keep you safe in the ocean.