Nayer Canton Vafabakhsh, MD
Whether it’s a sunburn, a bee sting, or something more serious, having a well-stocked beach bag means your family will be prepared for whatever the day throws at you.
Cool Down Sunburns
Sunscreen. Nothing puts a damper on a fun beach day like a nasty sunburn. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends water-resistant sunscreen of at least SPF 30 that provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays.
Protective clothing. But putting sunscreen on kids can be like herding cats — and sunscreen isn’t advised for babies under 6 months — so you should also pack sun hats and shirts with long sleeves to prevent overexposure to the sun.
Aloe gel. If someone in your family ends up with a sunburn, aloe gel can soothe and cool inflamed skin, especially if you keep it in your cooler instead of your bag.
Tylenol. If the sunburn is causing a lot of discomfort, Tylenol (acetaminophen) can be used for children ages 2 and older to ease the pain.
Clean Cuts and Scrapes
Anti-bacterial soap. Keeping a travel-sized bar of soap in your beach bag is a good idea for handwashing, but also in case of cuts and scrapes. If the beach has a shower or faucet for rinsing off sand, washing the affected area with good old-fashioned antibacterial soap and water is an excellent way to clean the wound and help prevent infection.
Alcohol wipes can be used for cleaning in the absence of soap and water, so keep those in your bag, too, along with a selection of bandages.
Travel first aid kit. This should include everything you need to treat minor cuts and scrapes, such as bandages, gauze and small scissors, and should be small enough to fit in your beach bag.
Safeguard Against Stings
Not only should you prepare for stinging and biting insects at the beach, jellyfish and coral stings are also on the list of possibilities.
White vinegar. If you’re headed to a beach where your kids may encounter jellyfish, pack a small bottle of white vinegar in your beach bag. Putting vinegar on a jellyfish sting neutralizes the toxins. Contrary to popular opinion, urinating on a jellyfish sting is not recommended.
Allergy medicine. For other bites and stings, allergy medicine like Benadryl can relieve itching and swelling and can be used for kids 2 years and older. If your child’s reaction to a bee sting or other insect bite seems extreme, seek medical attention. Symptoms of anaphylaxis, or a severe allergic reaction, include difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips, dizziness or fainting.
Shield Eyes from Sand
Playing in the sand is one of the best things about a beach day, but sand in your kids’ eyes could put a damper on the fun.
Bottled water. Just as with cuts and scrapes, plain old water is your best bet for flushing sand or other debris from the eyes. It’s a good idea to throw an extra bottle of water in your bag that you reserve for this purpose.
With a bit of planning, you can ensure your beach bag contains everything you’ll need to keep your family safe at the beach. Let the adventure begin!