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How to avoid losing a family member at the beach.

Photo by Sarah Medina on Unsplash

📅 August 17, 2022

⏱️ 2 min read


Jay Vitale


Going to the Beach is loads of fun with lots to do… and because of that there can at times be A LOT of people there. So, getting turned around or lost can certainly happen (especially for smaller children).

The risk of getting lost at the beach is much different than other settings, and the added risk of a missing person being lost in the water makes keeping track of your group even more important.

Exploring the beach is a great adventure, but since the beach can look similar at times it can be hard to gauge the distance you’ve covered or even where you started from. There are environmental factors to think of as well. When playing near or in the ocean the wind and water currents can cause people to migrate a great distance without realizing.

How to Avoid:

  • Orient your group: try to remember the street or gate name of your nearest beach entrance if possible. Take a minute to point out nearby landmarks to your group so if you get lost everyone knows some obvious buildings or structures that can help guide them back to base!
  • Be visible: Make sure there’s something about your beach setup that’s easily recognizable for any smaller children with you. A brightly colored umbrella or tent (if they’re allowed) are great, but even a landmark to follow can help prevent kids from getting lost.
  • Set boundaries: encourage children to stay within certain landmarks when playing or swimming to avoid them getting moved by wind or current.
  • Have a plan: Searching for missing people on the beach, or trying to find your own group on a busy day may not be easy. So set a family or group meeting location in a visible public spot (like a beach entrance gate or police post) In the event anyone gets separated, and agree to meet back at that location.
  • Supervise children: Lifeguards are making sure no swimmers have trouble or need rescue, but they can’t keep track of where children roam. If children are by the waterline they should ALWAYS have adult supervision, even if they’re strong swimmers.

What to do if you’re lost:

  • Get to safety: Teach children if they’re lost to get to safety as soon as possible. Police or Lifeguards are the best choices. These public safety officers can monitor the child while they work to reunite you. If the child knows the family meeting place or landmarks discussed earlier then it may help.

What to do if a group member is missing:

  • Use your plan: If you’re in a group with multiple adults, send one to the meeting place to wait for the lost person.
  • Stay in contact: communication is key! make sure people in your group who are searching for the missing member communicate as to where they are and if they find the missing person.
  • Notify help: Make lifeguards or police aware of any missing group members as quickly as possible. Be sure to be able to note how long the person has been missing for and have a good description including their clothing age and name.
  • Don’t panic: Assuming the worst creates chaos. We also don’t want the name of a missing child to become public knowledge as a stranger could use that to gain the child’s trust. Report the facts to public safety officials and their protocols will move things along much faster.

Keeping your group together is the best way to enjoy the beach, but having a good plan set in the event will ensure you have a great, safe day at the beach.

Swim at your Own Risk

Beaches and oceans are dynamic natural environments.  Crowd conditions, currents, waves, wild animals, and other water and beach conditions can rapidly change. The risks and conditions shown on this site are informational only and not always real-time.  Actual conditions may differ.  Lifeguards are not always on duty or available.  Always remain aware of your surroundings and exercise due care for your own safety and the safety of others around you. 

Always check for water warnings or check with a lifeguard before you swim.

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