Healthplan Spain


Spanish lifeguard at beach with warning flag Beach Safety Tips For Families And Children In Spain Expat Tips

Spain is a fabulous country both to live in and to come to for your holidays. But like anywhere in the world, if you and your family love beach holidays and going into the sea, and you have small children, their safety is paramount. So to help you keep everyone safe (not just the little ones), we’ve written down a few helpful tips of beach safety here in Spain.

Respecting the Power of the Spanish Sun

We are all a lot more conscious of the power of the Sun’s rays these days, but you can’t be too careful, especially here in sunny Spain where temperatures can soar during the summer months to over 40c. You can easily get sun tanned from just walking around, so whenever you go out (especially when you go to the beach) put plenty of sunscreen on any exposed parts of the body. Make sure you choose the right grade of sunscreen, and keep extra with you so you can top up at regular intervals. Just to be on the safe side, you should make sure that you and your children wear a hat to help prevent sunstroke.

It goes without saying that the Sun is at its strongest at midday, but please bear in mind that here in Spain it’s much stronger than it is in the UK. A lot of the beaches in Spain have sunbeds and umbrellas for hire. If you haven’t got your own, make use of them.

The Sea can be a Dangerous Place

The sea can be a dangerous place, but if you take the right precautions, you and your family can have a great time. In summer the Mediterranean sea is lovely and warm, yet still cool enough to help to lower your body temperature. There are plenty of lovely, sandy beaches to choose from all along the coast, but if you can, try and find one that has a lifeguard on hand. The truth is that you can’t keep an eye on your children every single second, so a lifeguard provides you with a second set of eyes just in case one of your little ones should wander off into the sea.

The cardinal rule with small children is to always accompany them into the sea. Make sure they wear swim arm bands as you can never be too careful. Stories of young children drowning in the sea and swimming pools in Spain are an all too often occurrence in the Spanish press. Please be vigilante. Don’t become another statistic!!

Over 500 people die each year on Spanish beaches due to rip currents and undertows many of them children. Please take a couple of minutes to read the information at the bottom of this page on rip currents, how to identify them and stay safe.

One thing you should watch out for are jellyfish. Some areas are more prone to them than others, but if there are any in the sea where you are, then stay out of the water. They may look harmless, but young children won’t understand the danger, and can easily end up getting severely stung which can be extremely painful.

It’s a good idea to learn how to treat jellyfish stings. There’s some excellent information posted in an article we ran a short while ago. You can access it here

Before you head to the beach, it's a good idea to make sure you pack a first aid kit. These will come in very handy for any minor injuries that may occur including cuts and grazes. First aid kits can be obtained from any pharmacy in Spain for just a few Euro's.

It’s always a good idea, especially if you’re visiting a beach that you’ve never been to before, to check it out and get as many details about it as you can. How deep the water is; whether or not there are any dangerous currents; are there any water sports like surfing that could injure your kids. If there’s a lifeguard it’s always worth a chat, or if not you can always try to talk to the locals - there are usually plenty of Brits around!.

Don’t go to secluded beaches if you intend swimming. It’s always safer when there are other people around, just in case someone gets into difficulties. We hear of people drowning on Spanish beaches on an almost daily basis. Please respect the sea. Don't become another statistic!

It’s also a good idea to have a chat with your children just to make sure they understand beach safety. And just in case one of them does wander off and get lost, it’s a good idea to find a landmark on the beach and agree to meet there if anyone gets separated.

Beach and Sea Safety for Grown Ups

Alcohol and the sea just don’t mix so never, ever go swimming after you’ve been drinking. You'll also want to make sure that you keep your body hydrated. It can get very hot in this part of the world and it's easy to forget to keep drinking sufficient amounts of water. Make sure you have a few bottles of fresh water on hand.

If the beach you’re at has warning flags posted, learn what the different colors mean and keep a watchful eye on them. Green indicates that swimming conditions are favorable; yellow means to act with caution and to keep an eye out for a change, and red means it is unsafe. Conditions can change quickly. Don’t go swimming on your own, and never swim when it’s dark. If you get caught in a rip current it could be fatal (See link below).

The Blue Flag System

The blue flag system is a way of monitoring and signaling the best beaches in Europe and South Africa. The system is independently operated by the Foundation for Environmental Education. The blue flag is awarded to beaches that meet the Foundation’s high standard which are measured across 4 categories:

  • The quality of the water
  • The level of local environmental education and information on display
  • The standard of the local environmental management
  • Safety services available

There are 47 countries taking part in the scheme, and Spain, with around 590 current blue flag awards (each flag lasts only 12 months then has to be renewed) is the leading country. So if you and your family are holidaying in Spain this year or indeed living here permanently, you’ll stand a good chance of finding some excellent, safe, quality beaches.

So to recap.

  • Use plenty of sunscreen
  • Wear a hat
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Take a first aid kit
  • Be aware of warning flags
  • Arrange a meeting point
  • Young children should wear arm bands
  • Educate the little ones
  • Don't drink alcohol
  • Don't swim alone
  • Don't swim after dark
  • Use beaches with lifeguards
  • Don't use inflatables in rough seas
  • Avoid jellyfish
  • Try and watch the children at all times
  • Look out for rip currents (See below)

Further Reading

Rip Currents: How To Stay Safe On Spanish Beaches

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