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Shorelines : Is the beach really a safer option?

Published on September 7, 2012 by Sweet Marie

Shorelines Is the beach really a safer option
As many other owners, I am often faced with a serious demand challenge, sandy shorelines over Canadian Shield and docks.  Many families believe a sandy shore line is the best option for their little ones and will go without a cottage rental, than pursue one with a dock, swim ladder, or rocky shore.  The perception is that a sandy shore line is safer for their young kids.  The reality however, is not the case.

South Western Ontario has been faced with several drownings over the last few weeks.  The heat wave the province and regions have been under has pushed families to find more water fun on the weekends, and pursue local cottage rentals, now more so than ever.  But there is an obvious misperception out there is with sandy beaches and sandy shorelines.  “My kids will be safer when they can gradually walk into the water, instead of jump in.”  “It’s safer and more easily accessible for my elderly parents, so we need and absolutely must have a sandy beach for our cottage rental.”  If this were the case, then why have so many drowning of late happened in beachfront areas of the province?  Parents make the wrong assumptions and then it’s too late.  Anyone, adult or child, can drown in an inch of water.  Combine the wrong sets of circumstances and it won’t matter if you are on a sandy or rocky shoreline, your child will drown.  If you do not stay within an arm’s reach of your young child, you are exposing your kid/s to risk, period.

My first priority with my own kids, having 5, has been swimming lessons.  And I realise that not all parents have the luxury of affording such an expense, as they are expensive.    And do not assume that just because they have had lessons, they are perfectly fine on their own.  There should ALWAYS be adult supervision within arm’s reach.  Also, lessons do not really start to work until is at an age where they can truly understand the directions provided.  In our case, we started our children at the age of 9 months, developing a comfort level with the water.  We have had a cottage before the kids came, and being responsible and smart, decided that it was important enough to start that early.  They have all become natural swimmers, though our youngest still uses a life jacket when he jumps into the water from our dock.  And he uses it again, when we go to the public beach in Parry Sound.  We assume nothing.

The right sized life jacket is just as important if not more important in the water and on boats.  If you can get more than 2 adult fingers between the child’s shoulder and the top of the inside of the jacket shoulder, it’s too big.  And if the kid weighs more than the amount listed on the jacket, it’s too small.  If your child falls out of boat, God forbid, or falls over on a sandy beach and hits his head on something, even with a jacket on, they will drown if they are face down in the water.

So you can tell by reading that we DO NOT have a sandy shoreline at our cottage rental.  And we lose a lot of business every season when the request for such a shoreline comes along with every 3rd or 4th booking request.  I cannot do anything about it.  My landscape is what it is.  But I also, believe that the need for such a shoreline is really a false sense of security, it does not force the kids to learn to swim, makes parents irresponsible in SOME situations, and limits your ability to moor boats and water craft.

It also reduces the option of being able to fish from the dock if you cast into a sandy area, as most fish varieties prefer plankton filled rocky areas.  Ultimately, families will gravitate to the sandy beaches for basking in the sun’s rays, and giving themselves a relaxing afternoon of lying down on soft plush sand.  Do not be one of the recent statistics.  Stay close to your kids while they are having fun in the beachy waters, and be safe.


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