SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Walton County is the first in the panhandle to re-open its public beaches to swimmers after Hurricane Idalia.  

Flags dropped to single red around noon on Aug. 30. A welcoming sight to those on a 30A vacation.

“Today’s our last day, so we wanted to be able to go in the water, but now it’s only one flag so we’re able to swim,” said Hailey Myers.

Single red flags mean you can go knee-deep, but there is still a high risk of rip currents.  

Now that Hurricane Idalia conditions are dying down, South Walton Beach Safety is focusing on a crowded Labor Day Weekend. 

“Labor Day is always going to be one of our biggest weekends of the year, you know, and we will have, you know, some surf. I don’t think it’s going to be anything remotely close to what we’ve had yesterday and this morning,” said beach safety lieutenant Colin Perlaky.

Along with water risks, Perlaky said they have seen more instances when it comes to the heat.  

“We’ve had a very hot summer and we’ve had a lot of heat-related emergencies. So it’s it’s vital that we make sure that everybody is getting, you know, ample hydration and the right hydration. I should add that in there because we know everybody likes to have a good time of the Labor Day Weekend too, ” said Perlaky. “Make sure you bring in some shade, bring some SPF, because otherwise you’ll be feeling it.”

South Walton Beach Saftey has 26 year-round positions, meaning lifeguards are always at the beach as the crowds slow down into the fall. 

Perlaky said conditions can change at any second in the Gulf of Mexico. He urges the public to stay up to date with flag conditions by texting “SAFETY” to 3-1-2-7-9.