SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)- Deceiving water conditions are posing a threat to swimmers along the Gulf Coast. Lifeguards are urging beachgoers to check the flags before getting into the water.
“It pays to pay attention to the flag system,” said David Vaughan, SWFD, Beach Safety Director.
While hundreds of people are looking to enjoy the sun and cool off with a dip in the water. Lifeguards are urging people to know what flag is flying because even though the water may look calm there could still be dangers that lie beneath the surface.
On Wednesday alone, South Walton Fire District responded to nine serious water rescues. Each of the swimmers was swept out while on a raft or on a float.
“Even on a hard yellow day, you can get rip currents that can be life-threatening or who aren’t strong swimmers or who are no swimmers at all,” said Vaughan.
“Being a very good swimmer, I always swim out to the sandbar but today, I did find myself being pulled down the beach,” shared Michelle George, Santa Rosa Beach Resident.
Even Junior Lifeguards say it’s important to respect the water and obey the flag system.
“If you don’t know what the flags mean, you could be in danger and you’re not expecting a rip current or a big wave or big swell to come, it could be a risk to you and your family,” warned Cam Odom, Junior Lifeguard.
Knowing before going-gives a baseline of information on what you are up against.
“So, if you take a look at the flag and you see that it’s blowing from the north and you know that you’ve got one of those giant unicorn floats out there,” Vaughan said. “Stop and talk to one of your guards.”
Purple flags mean there is marine life in the area, like Sea Nettle Jellyfish.
With a heavy presence of jellyfish along South Walton’s shoreline lifeguards say, it’s best to use water on a jellyfish sting rather than ice.