Summer is finally here, and you are excited to get out there and spend some well deserved time at the beach. Being new to the area may also mean that you may not know what the different colors of the beach flags mean. Here on the Emerald Coast we use an official beach flag warning system to let you know when the water is safe to enter, and when it is not. It is important to learn the importance of the flag system because we have powerful rip currents that occur along these gorgeous gulf coast waters. The double sand bar topography of our region creates dangerous rip currents that can trap and pull swimmers out to sea, creating a dangerous situation if you do not know how to escape them. Swimmers in this path will suddenly feel themselves being pulled away from shore. Generally once you are caught in a rip current, your first instinct is to panic by resisting the current and trying to swim back to shore; however, it is nearly impossible to swim against this powerful current. The best way to escape a rip current is by swimming with it and then swimming out of it in horizontal direction.
Recently there have been a lot of rescues due to rough waters, and some of the tourists have been finding out the hard way that they should have paid attention to the flags. So to be safe, always make sure you know what the status is before entering the water. View the image below to see what the flags look like as well as what they mean. South Walton TDC has a great text feature that will let you know the status of the flags before you head to the beach, which is great for those of us who have little ones we need to keep safe and don’t live directly on the beach. For current conditions and flag updates text “FLAG” to 67463* to receive status updates. Be sure to also bookmark our page for easy reference. Hopefully this information will help keep you safe, since one of the greatest perks of living here is to get out there and enjoy some fun in the sun with your family.