rubber ducky on top a lifesaving floating device.

With March Break coming up, some families are probably thinking about embarking on a trip, and it will probably be to a sunny destination. We all love the beach, right? However, just because you are on vacation it does not mean you can forget about water safety. Water-related accidents can happen at any moment and location. That is why the team at DSH has created a helpful list of things to be aware of while you’re having fun in the sun. 


Water Watchers

In open water, pools, hot tubs, or any other body of water, there should always be at least one adult actively supervising the kids. We know it’s easy to relax since you’re on vacation, there are probably other people around and the kids can play on their own, nonetheless, drowning is silent and it happens very quickly. That is why someone should always supervise the kids. 

The person with the Water Watcher role must have their complete focus on the swimmers. This means no reading, no phones, no distractions, and no alcohol. Depending on your group numbers, the role can be switched every 30-40 minutes. 

Young and inexperienced swimmers should always be at the Water Watcher’s arm’s length.


Beach Hazards

Whether it is an ocean, lake or river beach, there are some precautions everyone should take before going in the water: 



Most beaches will have a flag system to let swimmers know if the water is swim to swim in or not. Though there are some local modifications, flag colours and meanings are universal. Just like a traffic light, most of the time green means swimming is safe, yellow means some danger, and red means you shouldn’t go in the water. Click here to learn more about flags and their meaning.


Riptides & Currents

Contrary to swimming in a pool, open water such as oceans, lakes and rivers, is constantly moving and creating riptides and currents regardless of the depth. 

Riptides are strong currents that move away from the shore and are responsible for most lifeguard rescues in open water. They tend to form closer to structures such as piers and jetties (keep a distance of at least 100 feet), low spots or breaks in sandbars. Before going in the water, check for flags, ask the lifeguards and take a good look at the water, signs such as waves that aren’t breaking and choppy water, are indicators of riptides.

If you get caught in a riptide do not fight it. Going against the current will tire you out and make it harder to get out of it. You should try to swim out of it, always parallel to the shore. If you can’t swim float or tread water while calling and waving for help. 

Want to learn more about rip tides and how to stay safe around them? Check the Rip Current Survival Guide



Never stay on the beach or near water when you hear thunder or know there will be lighting. Lightning can strike over 19 kilometres away from a storm. So if you can hear the thunder, you might be in a risk area. Leave the water immediately. This also applies to boats.

Use weather apps to check for storms before heading to the beach, always be aware of your surroundings, and follow official guidelines and notices. 



Remember, we share the world with other species, and we need to be aware of the hazard they might pose to us, and the hazards we can pose to them.

One of the most common wildlife encounters swimmers have is with jellyfish. And though there are very few deadly dangerous jellyfish species, getting stung can be uncomfortable and painful. Avoid going in the water in jellyfish season, especially after heavy rain or windy weather. To protect yourself further, consider wearing a wetsuit, or even getting jellyfish repellent. Do not approach jellyfish on shore and be wary of tentacles, even if not attached, they can still sting. If you see them on the beach, do not get in the water. 

Beaches are usually home to other creatures such as crabs, sea birds, and iguanas. They are not harmful to humans and will only attack if threatened. Do not disturb them and stay away. The same principle applies to water creatures such as fish, sea urchins, crustaceans and stingrays. 


Diving & Water Depth

Always enter the water slowly and carefully. If you’re planning to dive, check the area first and be aware of the changes in the ocean/lake/river floor. There are lots of underwater elements such as sand banks, sudden dropoffs, vegetation, and rocks that will not be visible from the surface and could cause serious accidents. 


Lifeguard Areas 

If possible, always swim in lifeguard-surveilled areas. However, even if there are lifeguards present,  always stay alert and aware of everyone’s actions and activities, in particular, if there are kids. 

If there’s an emergency, you can’t count on the lifeguard to see it right away. Your awareness is key. 


Playing in The Water

Wave jumping, snorkelling, and other water activities are great ways to spend time in open water. However, due to currents and tides, you can very easily drift away from your starting point, and when you realize it, you are several meters away, and this can happen to kids and adults alike. To avoid this, always define a reference point on the beach and every time you feel you’re drifting away return to it. 

Be careful when using inflatable devices like rings, mattresses, chairs or hammocks in open water. Just like when playing in the water, tides and winds can make you drift away, and put you in a complicated situation. 


Other Water Activities

Never swim in areas that are shared with people doing other water activities such as boating, fishing, or surfing. It can be dangerous for everyone. 



If you’re planning on going boating or doing some other water activities, make sure every member of your party (including adults) is wearing a lifejacket or PFD. These elements will protect you and keep you afloat in case of an emergency and should be a priority in all water trips. 

Learn more about the difference between a lifejacket and a PFD, and when to wear them, here. 


Safety Rules

Indoor or outdoor pool, water park, ocean, lake or river, it does not matter where you are swimming, you should always follow all safety rules and regulations. 


Sun Protection

While it is great to spend lots of time outdoors, too much sun exposure can be dangerous. When planning your vacation always pack sun-protection gear such as hats, UV-filter clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

Water is key since you don’t want to dehydrate. Just because you’re swimming all day does not mean your body is getting, by itself, the hydration it needs.

Have sun breaks throughout the day for kids and adults alike. This should be the moment to reapply sunscreen, get a snack, drink water and rest a moment in the shade. 



Now you’re ready to have a water-safe trip. Put all these tips into action, and have an amazing vacation time. Not travelling yet? Why not get some swim lessons on the schedule, you can never be overprepared for water safety, and having strong swimmers will bring everyone peace of mind. Davina’s Swim House offers year-round lessons for kids and adults. Sign up to learn to swim, or to increase your water confidence.