For action-packed activities, look for a spot with finer grains since these areas provide better traction. This will make for easier sand-castle building and minimize injury risk during games that require jumping or running. There are exceptions, but finer grains typically appear in areas with limited wave action.
Finally, while digging a hole is required for building a bonfire or burying a friend, be mindful of potential hazards, which can include twisted ankles or asphyxiation. In the United States between 1990 and 2006, 16 people died in sand-hole collapses. (For comparison: During this same time period, only 11 people died of shark attacks.)
To keep your digging experience safe, make sure no one’s head ever dips below sand level, and refill the hole when you’re done.
Enjoy the ocean, mindfully
When it comes to the coronavirus, the sea is a safe space. Any respiratory secretions from fellow swimmers “are going to be diluted rapidly,” Mr. Sobsey said. “As long as you keep a distance of a couple yards or more, you’re fine.”
Another safety strategy? Swim only in guarded areas where, at one in 18 million, the chance of drowning is minute. (On unguarded beaches, the risk is five times greater.) Since the pandemic has led to budget cuts, call a local chamber of commerce ahead of time, to see which beaches are protected.
Before entering the water, notice signage or flag systems alerting swimmers to hazards, and ask a lifeguard to point out rip currents, those hard-to-spot channels of liquid energy that sweep out to sea, responsible for 80 percent of beach rescues. A patch of especially placid or choppy, slightly darker water is a good indicator. If you do get caught in a rip, remain calm and — only once you feel the grip loosen — swim parallel to shore.
“Knowing how to swim in a pool does not mean a person is equipped for the ocean,” said Dr. Peter Wernicki, orthopedic surgeon and medical adviser for the United States Lifesaving Association. “If you doubt your open-water skills, I suggest a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Anything else may actually work against you and increase the risk of drowning.”