Beach season is almost upon us, which means longer days spent on Northwest Florida’s beautiful shores and enjoying the Gulf’s turquoise waters. It also means respecting our natural surroundings and local rules for your safety, the safety of others and the safety of area wildlife.
Whether you’re staying at WaterColor Inn, WaterSound Inn or The Pearl Hotel, your beach experience deserves to be an unforgettable one. To help make your escape to the beach a safe one, our friends at the South Walton County TDC have put together a treasure trove of resources, which we’re sharing with you here!
Pay Attention to Beach Flags
Knowing whether you should go in or stay out is as easy as knowing your colors, thanks to our local beach flag warnings. Double red flags flying? The water is closed to the public, and water activity is prohibited (in fact Entering the Gulf during double red flag conditions can result in fines and criminal charges). A red flag means high hazard due to high surf and/or strong currents, whereas a yellow flag implies a medium hazard, with moderate surf and/or currents. When a green flag is flying, hazard is low, but you should still exercise caution. Is a purple flag in the mix? Watch out for man o’ wars, jellyfish and stingrays nearby.
Be Mindful of Rip Currents
Rip currents are common in the Gulf of Mexico and can be extremely dangerous, so it’s important to pay attention to the beach flags and know the surf conditions before entering the water. If you see someone caught in a rip currently, notify a lifeguard right away and call 911. If possible, throw them a flotation device and don’t lose sight of them. Do not enter the water under any circumstance, as you will also get caught in the strong current. If you unexpectedly find yourself in a rip current, stay calm and float with the current until it dissipates; do not try swimming against it. If possible, swim parallel to shore and back in until help can get to you.
Know the Rules of the Beach
Safety comes first, and so does the protection of our natural environment and local wildlife. That means leaving no trace! Littering and glass containers are not permitted, and any items left on the beach overnight will be discarded unless otherwise permitted. Vehicles, dogs and bonfires all require permits. Take a lasting look, but taking sand, water or vegetation from our beaches is strictly prohibited. Also, please stay off the dunes, and be sure to follow local ordinances during Sea Turtle Season (late spring through early summer).
Time at the beach should be fun, relaxing and memorable for all of the right reasons. Learn more about local beach rules and ordinances from our friends at the South Walton County TDC. For Gulf conditions and flag updates, text “SAFETY” to 31279. Stay aware, courteous and safe out there!
Details included in this story were accurate at time of publication but are subject to change based on seasonal schedules, amenity and/or operational updates. For the most current information, please visit the respective property’s website.