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Checklist For A Fun Day At The Beach Or Pool

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Summer weekends and holidays often mean a trip to the water, weather permitting. We Americans love our summer fun in the sun mixed with a little sand and surf or, perhaps, a little chlorine. But few moments can frustrate as much as traversing a hot parking lot and securing that perfect spot only to realize that a few must-haves didn't make the trip. Whether heading to the beach, the lake or the local pool, here are some things to bring to ensure a safe and enjoyable outing.

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Beach Bags: Let's start with the basics. Large, sturdy, waterproof beach bags are a must. This is not the time to pack up large plastic bags from the supermarket with the day's supplies. Disposable bags often rip, and then you're in trouble.

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Big Towels: Line those perfect bags with large, absorbent towels. If positioned along the bottom, they will absorb any leakage from your other items, which should include...

LOTS of Drinking Water: Unless you want to spend the day walking back and forth to the snack stand for overpriced bottled water, it's best to bring your own. So pack a cooler with bottles from the local warehouse store; freeze them overnight to make sure they stay cold in the hot sun. Or, better yet, fill a jug with ice water. Just don't forget the cups.

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Food: Good food is a must, but only if it is stored properly with ice bags. Lots of healthy snacks — pita chips, crackers, baby carrots, apples, bananas, grapes, etc. — in addition to salads and sandwiches, will save you from the concession stand. Don't forget the utensils, napkins and extra plastic bags for garbage!

Good Sunscreen: Sunscreen might be the most important thing on the list. Bring plenty of the non-toxic variety and reapply often. Water, sweat and outdoor activity will wear away that protection over the course of a day.

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Sunglasses: Unless you prefer squinting and the crow's-feet and wrinkle lines that result, invest in a decent pair of sunglasses. Experts recommend protection from UVA and UVB light. So pack the sunglasses or, better still, wear them out of the house.

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First Aid Kit: Cuts on the feet from shells and broken glass are all too common. Bring along band-aids and a spray bottle of antiseptic to keep the fun from ending early.

Color-Coordinated Shirts: Kids (and even parents) can get lost in the crowd. Have everyone in the group wear a bright-colored shirt to make it easier to find one another.

Binoculars: Binoculars are a great way to look at boats, blimps and sky writing. They also help find those lost kids in bright t-shirts.

Change of Clothes: Clothes tend to get wet and sandy. Bring some extra clothes in the car to avoid an uncomfortable ride home.

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Umbrella: Few people, adults and kids alike, can take a whole day in the sun. A portable umbrella can provide some much needed protection from those harmful rays. An umbrella with a unique design also helps anyone who get disoriented find home base again. Bigger groups might an open tent for additional shade.

Portable Chairs: I don't know about you, but my back needs some support! Small portable beach chairs can be much more comfortable than the hard ground. But make sure there are enough to go around to avoid disagreements and hurt feelings.

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Beach Toys: Pails, shovels, Boogie boards and goggles will help keep kids interested and engaged in their surroundings.

Lots of Entertainment: There's never enough to do. Make sure you have some other activities, in case there's a lull in the day's activities. Anything from books and magazines to crossword puzzles and playing cards will work.

Jug of Water in the Car: An extra jug of water in the trunk is a great way to wash off dirty or sandy feet. Remember the day's fun without the reminder on the seats and floor of your car.

Have a safe and fun holiday!

Check out the Summer Guide at CBS Local.

Alma Schneider is a licensed Clinical Social Worker helping individuals overcome their psychological and practical obstacles to cooking and parenting on her blog and consulting business, Take Back the Kitchen. She is a native New Yorker transplanted to the suburbs with her husband, four children and loving yet stubborn Beagle Shiloh.

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