When it comes to safety on the beach and in the ocean, it’s important to understand beach flags and warnings, as well as what to do in the event you get caught in a rip current.
South Gulf Fire Rescue, the volunteer fire department located on Cape San Blas, maintains a Facebook page that is regularly updated with beach and weather conditions, including the current beach flag color. By following their Facebook page, you can keep up with beach and water conditions easily during your stay on the cape. Or for the most up-to-date posting of beach colors, you can also go directly to their website.
Beach Flag Meanings:
Green: Low Hazard (calm conditions)
Yellow: Medium Hazard (light surf and/or currents)
Purple: Marine Pest (jellyfish, stingrays, and dangerous fish)
Red: High Hazard (rough conditions, such as strong surf and/or currents)
Double Red: Water Closed to Public Use
Rip currents are strong currents perpendicular to the beach. If caught in a rip current, you can be pulled out to sea away from the beach. These can be dangerous especially if you don’t know what’s happening. Swimming against the current in an attempt to get back to land can easily tire out the swimmer, leaving them vulnerable to drowning. If caught in a rip current, this is what South Gulf Fire Rescue recommends:
If you are caught in a rip current, don’t panic!
1. RELAX: Don’t fight the current..
2. ESCAPE: Swim left or right, parallel to shore, to escape the current. If you can’t escape, float or tread water to save energy.
3 RETURN: When you feel the current let up, swim back to shore