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Beach Safety

Safely Enjoy the South Walton Beaches by Knowing the Beach Safety Flag System and Following the Rules of the Beach

 

South Walton promotes a fun, safe beach experience by utilizing many communications tools. A system of colored flags keeps residents, hosts and visitors informed of current surf conditions. With our convenient texting service and free "Perfect Beach" app, it's even easy to stay informed before reaching the beach!

 

Beach Flag Color Warning System 

  • Double Red Flag - Water Closed
  • Red Flag - High Hazard
  • Yellow Flag - Moderate Surf/Currents
  • Green Flag - Calm Conditions
  • Purple Flag - Dangerous Marine Life
  • White/Blue Flag - Temporary Technical Issues - Text "SAFETY" to 31279 to remain up to date on flag conditions**

    Download a Beach Safety Flyer 

Get Beach Condition Updates to Your Phone by Text or with the VSW App

For current conditions and flag updates text “FLAG” to 31279* to receive a link or visit SWFD.org.

*South Walton Beach Conditions: Message and Data Rates May Apply. Periodic Messaging. For help, text HELP, text STOP to end. For more information, see our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

**For those who regularly receive beach safety updates via the web, mobile, app or social media, we encourage you to check the flags on the beach and subscribe to our daily text service for conditional updates by texting "FLAG" to 31279. 

Download the Visit South Walton Perfect Beach App               

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Follow the Walton County Beach Rules

  • Leave No Trace - Items left on beach overnight will be discarded
  • Permits Required - Vehiclesdogs and bonfires require permits
    • Learn more about beach bonfires here. To obtain a beach bonfire permit, click here
  • Stay Safe - Obey all beach flag warnings
  • Sea Turtle Season rules, ordinances and laws
  • Know Before You Go
    • To prevent crowding, no tents larger than 6x6 are permitted on county owned or maintained beaches
    • Please allow a 15’ setback from dunes and water’s edge for emergency vehicles
    • Umbrellas under 7' in diameter are permitted
    • No glass containers are permitted on the beach
    • Removal of sand, water or vegetation is strictly prohibited
    • Keep off the dunes

 


What is Customary Use?

In June of 2016 the Walton County Board of County Commissioners adopted the Customary Use code, the code allows traditional use of all areas of flat sandy beach fronting the Gulf of Mexico, including activities such as sunbathing and fishing, and allows for beach chairs, beach towels and shade umbrellas under 7’ in diameter. On private property, customary use does NOT allow uninvited guests to bring any tents or pets, or use tobacco products, and does require adherence to all applicable state laws. These restrictions do not apply to property owners or their invited guests.


Rip Current Information

Identify a Rip Current

  • Darker color surf, indicating deeper water
  • Murky brown water caused by sand stirred up on the bottom
  • Smaller unorganized waves, alongside more evenly breaking waves over a sand bar
  • Waves breaking further out to sea on both sides of the rip current

How to Help Someone Caught in a Rip Current

  • Notify a lifeguard
  • Have someone call 911, give accurate landmarks
  • Do not enter the water, you too will be caught in the current
  • Throw them a flotation device
  • Try not to lose sight of the victim

What To Do If You Are Caught in a Rip Current

  • Don’t panic or swim against the current
  • Relax, float with the current until it dissipates
  • Swim parallel to shore and back in

Of course, the best way to avoid a rip current is to know the surf conditions before entering the water! Know the conditions and watch the flags!


Lifeguard Information

Lifeguarded beaches are available from mid-March through September, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. at regional public beach accesses including Inlet Beach, Santa Clara, Van Ness Butler, Jr., Blue Mountain, Gulfview Heights, Ed Waline, Dune Allen and Miramar Beach. Lifeguards are provided by South Walton Fire District and funded as a part of the Visit South Walton Safety Program. (Number of lifeguarded beaches, dates and times are subject to change.)


Beach Wheelchairs

The South Walton Fire District (SWFD) offers beach wheelchairs at the following beach accesses: Pompano Joe's (Miramar Beach), Ed Walline (Santa Rosa Beach) and Bramble Grove (Seagrove) from 10 a.m. until 5.30 p.m. daily, through the lifeguard season which is from the first Saturday in March until the last Sunday in September.

Each chair must be operated by an on-duty lifeguard and a beach wheelchair waiver must be signed by the beach wheelchair patron or their caregiver. It is requested that the beach patron limit the usage of the beach wheelchair to the beach area in the immediate area of the public beach access. In order to facilitate the possible need for multiple patrons, it is recommended that the beach patron's personal chair be used once the patron has reached their beach location.


Other Services

The Walton County Sheriff’s Office can provide assistance through Project Lifesaver which makes it possible to locate lost Alzheimer's patients. Parties considering the service should call (850) 478-7790.