As a Visitor, or a Newcomer, to the Gulf Coast here on 30A, one of the best things to do here is to go to the beach! You may have noticed the different colored flags at the beach each day, and if you haven’t noticed them, take a minute to locate them on your next trip down to the beach – they are important and could save your life! The colors of the beach swim flags vary depending on the weather, sea life and other conditions affecting the safety of the ocean’s water for swimmers.

If you don’t see a flag when you are headed down to the water, be sure to check in with the lifeguard to make sure conditions are safe enough to enjoy the water. Below is a list of the different colored flags that are typically flown at the beach and their meanings:

GREEN FLAG: CALM CONDITIONS
A green flag means that the water is generally calm and safe to be in.  It has few abnormal hazards.  That being said, you always need to be careful when in the water, especially with children, as conditions can change quickly.

YELLOW FLAG: MODERATE SURF/CURRENTS
A yellow flag means that conditions warrant a moderate amount of caution.  You can still get in the water but stay aware of currents and the surf as they may be stronger than normal.

RED FLAG: HIGH HAZARD
A red flag indicates that getting in the water is highly hazardous as a result of high surf and strong currents.  If you have experience swimming in the ocean, you are aware that undercurrents and riptides are extremely dangerous and have stolen the lives of many strong swimmers.  Pay attention to red flags and stay out of the water. It’s just not worth the risk.

DOUBLE RED FLAGS: WATER CLOSED
Double red flags mean that water conditions are so dangerous that the water is closed to the public.  Stay out of the water, period.

PURPLE FLAG: DANGEROUS MARINE LIFE
A purple flag can be just as dangerous as two red ones.  It indicates the presence of dangerous sea life.  This most often means jelly fish but it can also mean sharks.  While jelly fish can sting you, their stings are not usually life threatening unless you have an allergic reaction or are stung multiple times at once (similar to bees or hornets). Their sting does hurt though!  On the other  hand, sharks are sharks. If someone has seen one in the water, there’s just no reason to get in and test fate.

These flags are a great tool and resource to make sure your day at the beach is as safe and enjoyable as possible as you work down your list of exciting things to do here on 30A.  Taking the time to learn the meaning of each color and taking notice of conditions before going into the water is well worth the extra effort!

There is a free texting service available to help you stay informed before reaching the beach. Text FLAG to 31279 to get a link daily updates on the flag conditions and know before you go!

Here are some of the other RULES OF THE BEACH:

Glass containers and littering are prohibited.

Vehicles, dogs, and bonfires require permits. Permits may be obtained through the Walton County Clerk of Courts. Fore more information call (850) 267-3066

Obey all beach flag warnings

Items left on the beach overnight will be removed

Keep off the dunes

Removal of sand, water or vegetation is strictly prohitibted

All visitors who are fishing in either salt or fresh water are required by the State of Florida to have a fishing license,  unless they are participating in a fishing charter. Licenses can be obtained by Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission – myfwc.oom