Enjoy the Waves Safely: Understanding South Walton's Beach Flag System

When you're visiting the beautiful beaches of South Walton, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience should be a top priority. One of the most important tools for beach safety is the beach flag system. These flags provide critical information about the Gulfs conditions and help you make informed decisions while enjoying the surf and sand. Here’s a quick guide to understanding what each flag means and how to stay safe.

Beach Flags

Informative: Know Your Flags

Green Flag: Low Hazard

A green flag indicates calm conditions. While it’s generally safe for swimming, always stay vigilant and be aware of your surroundings. Even on calm days, the ocean can be unpredictable.

Yellow Flag: Medium Hazard

A yellow flag means moderate surf and/or currents. Exercise caution and stay close to shore. If you’re not a strong swimmer, consider using a flotation device or sticking to shallow waters.

Red Flag: High Hazard

A red flag signifies strong surf and dangerous currents. Swimming is strongly discouraged. Only experienced swimmers should enter the water, and even then, with extreme caution.

Double Red Flag: Water Closed to Public

Two red flags mean the water is closed due to extremely hazardous conditions. This could be due to dangerous currents, high surf, or the presence of marine life such as sharks. Entering the water is prohibited.

Purple Flag: Dangerous Marine Life

A purple flag indicates that dangerous marine life, like jellyfish or stingrays, has been spotted. Stay out of the water or proceed with extreme caution. Follow any additional guidance from lifeguards.


Prepare: Be Ready for All Conditions

  • Check the Flags Daily: Beach conditions can change rapidly. Always check the flag status before heading out.
  • Equip Yourself: Bring necessary safety gear like life vests, especially for children and weaker swimmers.
  • Stay Informed: Pay attention to local weather forecasts and updates from beach authorities.

Don’t Panic: Stay Calm and Follow Instructions

If you find yourself in a dangerous situation:

  • Stay Calm: Panicking can exacerbate the situation.
  • Signal for Help: Raise one arm and wave to get the attention of lifeguards or other beachgoers.
  • Float, Don’t Fight: If caught in a rip current, float or tread water until you can swim parallel to the shore to escape the current.

Respect Lifeguards: They’re There to Help

  • Follow Directions: Lifeguards are trained professionals. Always listen to their instructions and warnings.
  • Stay Near Guarded Areas: Swimming near lifeguard stations ensures help is close by if needed.
  • Report Hazards: If you notice any potential dangers, inform a lifeguard immediately.
Fire department truck on beach

Understanding and respecting the beach flag system in South Walton is crucial for a safe and enjoyable beach experience. By being informed, prepared, and attentive, you can make the most of your time by the Gulf while ensuring everyone's safety. Always remember: the beach is a beautiful place to relax and have fun, but it's essential to respect its power and unpredictability. Stay safe and enjoy your time in South Walton!