Beach flags + safety in Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Text BEACH to 44144 for daily beach flag updates straight to your phone!
We want your perfect day on the beach to be filled with plenty of fun, sun, adventure, and relaxation. The beaches are watched over by county lifeguards; all lifeguards are academy-trained to the advanced level of the United States Lifesaving Association’s open water standard. They are also medically trained as first responders in accordance with the SDOT + NREMT standard curriculum. While the lifeguards are always ready to assist in an emergency situation, there are many precautions you can take to ensure a safe day in Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
It is essential to know these simple beach rules and flag warning systems before your day on the sugar-white sand.
Pay close attention to the flag warning system. Even if the sky is sunny and the winds gentle, currents and surf could pose dangers. Avoid swimming when red flags are flying and remember that knee deep is too deep when yellow flags are posted.
Beach Flag Safety
Once you arrive for a day of fun on the beaches of Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island please take note of the colored flags that are flying overhead on our public beaches. The Okaloosa County flag system represents the current overall surf conditions and marine life that may impact your swimming experience. The flags are adjusted throughout the day as the weather and surf changes so check frequently for any changes. Let’s go over what each color means and how it could affect your beach experience:
- Green: Indicates low hazard, and means calm conditions, but swimmers should exercise caution.
- Yellow: Indicates medium hazard, and means moderate surf and/or currents.
- Red: Indicates high hazard, and means high surf and/or currents.
- Double Red Flag: An additional red flag means the water is closed to the public.
- Purple: Indicates dangerous sea life.
Want a live update on what the flags currently are in your area or where you’re about to spend the day? Text BEACH to 44144 for beach flag updates straight to your phone. Okaloosa County also provides updates on the current beach flags and conditions online.
Rip Current Safety
A rip current is a powerful channel of water flowing away from shore and an awareness of rip currents is key for your safety on the beach. While they cannot always be spotted, one of the best visual indicators of a rip current is a gap between the waves. Remind those joining you on the beach of these important tips:
- If caught in a rip current, do not swim against it. This is commonly an individual’s initial instinct.
- Swim out of the current then swim at an angle or toward the shore. Always swim parallel to the shore when attempting to swim out of the rip current.
- If you can’t escape, float or calmly tread water.
- If you can’t reach the shore draw attention to yourself by yelling, waving your arms and asking for help immediately.
Stay close the lifeguard towers and in view of the lifeguard so if you are caught in a rip current then they can assist you quickly. Okaloosa County takes pride in the services our Beach Safety Lifeguards provide. If you see a lifeguard at their post you can feel a peace of mind when your family swims under the watchful eye of one of our trained guards. Although, the water along the coastlines of Destin-Fort Walton Beach is generally calm and inviting it is still important to be aware of the flag system and presence of rip currents.
Keep your eye on those flags we just talked about, if it’s a yellow or red flag, there could be rip currents present.
UV Rays + Sunscreen
One beach safety tip that can sometimes be forgotten is the use of sunscreen. The warm rays of the beautiful Florida sunshine are always welcome but remember that the UV rays are powerful. Applying sunscreen, wearing appropriate UV resistant beachwear and sunglasses, and staying under a shaded umbrella is always key to enjoying your day at the beach. Sunscreen should be waterproof and reapplied every few hours to avoid a painful sunburn. Even on cloudy days or in colder weather the rays of the Florida sunshine can cause a sunburn so reapply often.
A day in Destin-Fort Walton Beach is always enjoyable and following a few simple safety steps will make sure it is a safe one too. There’s only a handful of things to keep a lookout for and if you do, you can enjoy hours of fun on our beautiful beaches.