The accommodation that you are staying at will have info or materials on beach safety. There are some lifeguard stations scattered throughout the beach. But for your own safety, you should act as if you are alone. Pay attention to the flag warning system, it is there to protect you. And remember even if the water looks safe, dangerous undertows and riptides can cause red flags.
What is undertow and riptide?
These are strong, fast, local, unseen rivers of water flowing away from the beach. These currents are not visible. But they are unpredictable and very deadly! If you find yourself caught in one, swim parallel to the beach until you don't feel the current, then swim toward the shore directly. Be patient and avoid exhaustion by fighting the currents.
Emerald Coast Beach Flag Warning System:
A GREEN flag means that the water is calm. The undertow is slight to non-existent and it is safe to swim using the proper amount of caution!
A YELLOW flag indicates the presence of light surf or currents and additional caution should be used while swimming in the Gulf.
A RED flag indicates the presence of strong surf and currents. Swimming in these conditions is not recommended as it presents a very high hazard to all swimmers.
A DOUBLE RED flag, however, means that the water is closed to the public! No one is allowed in the water when a double red flag is posted!
Finally, a PURPLE flag indicates the presence of marine pest in the water such as jellyfish, stingrays or dangerous fish.
In order to best enjoy the beaches, why not use the tips below as a beginning point in learning to recognize the dangerous times?
- Use common sense, if the waves look dangerous, they probably are.
- Remember that even small summer thunderstorms can cause local dangerous conditions with the surf.
- Seek shelter when storm clouds become visible.
- Avoid the water if you see lightning.
- Be safe and exhibit caution if you can't swim or are a beginner.