Welcome to the beach! You’ve come for fun in the sun and you’ve come to the right place! We’ve put together a few tips for beach safety to help have an amazing Fort Walton Beach vacation and keep you safe during your stay:
Stay Sea Safe: Our first tip for beach safety is getting to know our flag system for the Gulf’s conditions and what each colored flag represents:
Green: Low hazard and calm conditions
Yellow: Moderate surf and conditions, use caution in or near the water
Red: High hazardous conditions, high surf
Double Red: The Gulf is closed to the public for all water activities
Purple: Marine Life present. This can warn of everything from jellyfish to sharks. Stay aware of your surroundings while in the water.
Rip currents often form near sandbars along our shores. Look for spots of water that are calm or flat, in between breaking waves. This flat section is the water being pulled back offshore. Our rip currents are very strong along the Gulf Coast. If you find yourself being pulled out, stay calm. You’ll only wear yourself out if you panic.
A rip current won’t pull you under, only away from shore. Do not fight against the current. Instead, swim or float parallel to the shore, until the current releases you or you can get a lifeguard’s attention. If you spot someone in trouble, immediately notify the lifeguard or call 911. Do not attempt to rescue them. For lifeguard tower locations, as well as current surf and weather conditions, click here.
Make sure you avoid the burn during your Fort Walton Beach vacation. We can’t say this enough, please use sunscreen. Our sugar-white sands and turquoise waters reflect the sun’s light. Severe sunburn can be achieved in a very short amount of time, if you aren’t properly protected. You must use sunscreen and reapply it often. We also recommend sunglasses, hats, and umbrellas. Wear lightweight long-sleeved clothing to shield your skin from harmful UV rays, especially if your skin is not used to the sun.
Get to know the Locals: Our beautiful water isn’t just for visitors. It also serves as the home for marine life along the Gulf Coast. The most common sightings in our areas are big fish and yes, sharks. The most common shark sightings in our area are harmless Nurse Sharks. However, since the average person can’t identify each species of shark on sight, for your beach safety, we recommend avoiding them all together. Most shark attacks are provoked, without the swimmer being aware of their actions. Avoid areas where fishing poles are set up. Don’t swim with food in your pockets (this goes for the little people in your crew, too). Stay out of the water during dawn and dusk.
Another visitor to our shorelines is the Stingray, which defend themselves from predators with venomous tail spines (stingers). This sting can cause muscle cramps, swelling, pain, and even sickness, if left untreated. Stingrays only sting in response to harassment or injury. To avoid accidentally stepping on one, shuffle your feet along the bottom as you walk or swim. Stingrays are sensitive to activity and sounds. They will swim off if they detect an approaching person. However, they’ve been known to burrow themselves down in the sand to camouflage themselves. By shuffling your feet, you’re preventing accidentally stepping down on one, causing you both to have a very bad day.
The most common visitor along our beaches are Jellyfish. While unpleasant, usually jellyfish stings are minor and don’t require any medical treatment. However, stings from Portuguese Man-of-War or Box Jellies can cause severe pain and require a trip to the E.R.. Avoid all larger jellyfish, onshore and in the water.
However, if you find yourself feeling a stinging or burning sensation, it would be best to get out of the water. Most stings subside within a few minutes. However, if the pain persists, be sure to wash the affected area with seawater to neutralize the sting.
Do NOT use fresh or bottled water. Treat the affected area with a hot water soak or cold pack for twenty minutes. Hydrocortisone creams or antihistamines can aid in relieving any itching or swelling. Some other useful items to take the sting out is the use of tobacco. You apply the tobacco directly to the sting and allow the tobacco to absorb the sting. If the victim shows any signs of allergic reaction or the affected area is over half of their arm/leg, proceed to the closest E.R. for treatment.
Some other locals you may encounter are sea turtles, Horseshoe Crabs, Stone Crabs, Ghost Crabs and schools of fish. The ghost crabs are great to watch in the late evening or early morning as they look like little ghosts running along the shore.
Also, be sure to avoid barnacles. They’re often found on piers, docks, boat bottoms, and smaller ones have been known to attach themselves to seashells. These pretty, but pesky crustacean can cause injury with their sharp edges. Resist the temptation to pursue any turtle, schools of fish or rays, or other aquatic species that may swim in proximity of your location. This ensures your safety, as well as theirs.
Now that we’ve gone over these few safety tips, you’re bound to have a great time during your Fort Walton Beach vacation! Browse all our vacation properties for rent and book your next vacation today!