SUMMER IS finally here and the first place children of all ages want to head to in the Algarve is the beach. Although picture postcards of children frolicking in the sea and building sandcastles conjure images of a summer ideal, the realities of a day at the beach with a child are more sobering and parents need to be aware of the precautions they need to take to ensure a safe and fun day.
Beaches in the Algarve are generally safe but it is always a good idea to check the facilities at the beach of your choice. Look for a lifeguard station and check to see if there is a green flag flying and that the water is safe for swimming in. The beaches of the Algarve are met by the Atlantic and the waves can be high and the currents strong so look at tide tables and heed warnings about sea safety.
There is nothing stopping you from taking even small babies into the sea, if your child is keen to go in the water then encouraging a healthy respect of the ocean from a young age is always beneficial.
It may sound silly but it is very hot and although you may be enjoying the opportunity to soak up some sun it’s not a good idea to take your child out when the sun is at its hottest between 11am and 3pm.
If you are out and about at the hottest time of day then dress your child in light coloured, loose fitting clothing with long sleeves and trousers and a wide brimmed hat. Children and adults can both burn in just 15 minutes depending on the level of UV (ultra-violet) but babies and children are far more susceptible to heat stroke and sunburn so cover up and regularly apply sun screen with a high SPF, sun protection factor, minimum SPF 30.
It may be difficult to pin your child down and slap on the sun screen but it is essential. There are now many fun brands of sun screen aimed at children and often the coloured creams can make application fun.
Although you are surrounded by water at the beach don’t forget to drink plenty. Fizzy drinks, especially those with caffeine, only dehydrate you further so water really is the best option.
Finally, don’t forget to look after yourself. You spend all day worrying that your child is protected but you are just as important – a dehydrated, sunburnt parent can make a child just as miserable!