How to Have Fun & Be Safe!
Beach Safety Tips
The waters of the Gulf of Mexico are as inviting as they are beautiful. We want you to enjoy your time riding the emerald waves and splashing in the saltwater while you’re on vacation at the Gulf Coast. We also want each of our guests to remain safe while doing so, and we ask that you remain vigilant regarding surf conditions. Here are a few beach safety tips to make sure that you can make the most of your next getaway.
Watch for Warning Flags
Begin each beach trip by checking the flag color for the day. This is an important beach safety tip, as warning flags provide vital information on what’s occurring during your vacation. The local flag warning system is universal across each of our beaches, from Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan, Alabama, to Panama City Beach, Florida. Lifeguarded public beaches are also available in each of our Northwest Florida and Coastal Alabama vacation destinations from mid-March through September.
- Double Red Flag: Water is closed to the public due to dangerous water conditions
- Red Flag: High hazard due to surf and/or strong currents
- Yellow Flag: Medium surf and/or current hazard
- Green Flag: Low-hazard and calm conditions; remain vigilant
- Purple Flag: Marine pests present, such as jellyfish, stingrays, or dangerous fish
It is illegal to swim in the Gulf when there is a double red flag. If you are caught swimming under a double red flag, you could be fined.
Keep a Pair of Shoes Handy
Feeling the sand between your toes ushers in the bliss of a beach day experience. However, when it’s over 90 degrees, sand in direct sunlight can get so hot that it causes burns on the soles of your feet. Make sure you keep a pair of shoes handy while walking along the beach in case you reach unbearably hot spots.
Know the Signs of Sunstroke and Sun Poisoning
Heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and sun poisoning can happen because of dehydration, extended exposure to the sun, and high temperatures. It’s important to keep sun safety tips in mind while staying hydrated and drinking a lot of water. Knowing the symptoms ahead of time can also help you identify when someone might need help. Here’s how you can tell the difference:
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
- Muscle cramps
- Pale skin
Symptoms of Sun Poisoning
- Skin redness and blistering
- Pain and tingling
- Fever and chills
If you or someone you’re with displays any of these symptoms, get out of the heat immediately and start drinking water. If the symptoms are severe, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Waves
Water is one of the most powerful forces in nature. While it may be beautiful, it can also be dangerous. Injuries from waves have resulted in simple sprains, broken collarbones, and even dislocated shoulders. Be mindful to never have your back to an incoming wave. Watch out for waves that break directly on the shore, as they have the most potential to be dangerous.
Understand Rip Current Safety
Rip currents, powerful currents of water moving away from the shore, are also something you should heed while swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. These currents can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea.
How to Identify a Rip Current
- Waves break further out to sea on either side of a rip current
- Waves are smaller and unorganized, along more evenly breaking waves
- Sand is stirred up by rip currents causing the water to appear murky and brown
- The water is deeper, as indicated by darker-colored water
What to do if You See Someone Else Caught in a Rip Current
- Notify a lifeguard and have someone call 911
- Do not enter the water
- Throw a person a floatation device and do not lose sight of them
What to do if You’re Caught in a Rip Current
- Do not panic or swim against the current
- Try to relax and float until the current dissipates
- Swim parallel to the coastline until you can reach the shore
While monitoring the beach conditions is certainly a huge part of beach safety, we also want to remind you to put on sunscreen and reapply often while enjoying your time on the beaches of Northwest Florida and Coastal Alabama! Nothing ruins a good time like a painful burn. You may even want to consider investing in a beach umbrella for those long days spent in the sun with friends and family. In some areas you can rent an umbrella from onsite beach service or local businesses.
We hope these useful beach safety tips help you have the best beach vacation with Southern Vacation Rentals along the Gulf Coast!