Residents want more to be done about Walton beach flag warning systems

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SOUTH WALTON Fla. (WMBB) — Walton County residents want more to be done to keep visitors safe on their beaches and officials say plans are in place for education moving forward.

Some residents went to the TDC budget meeting Tuesday to voice their concerns about beach safety education and how the TDC plans on educating their visitors.

“Two drowning deaths is two too many,” said Walton resident Charles Galloway. “And the more people that come here, the more responsibility we have to educate them to keep themselves safe.”

Galloway spoke at the TDC meeting saying more communication should be done during red flag days. He said there have been many drownings and water rescues so far this year.

“What they really need to do is kind of an amber alert system either through an app or through a website or through text messages that as many visitors who are down here that they can accumulate they need to get an alert to stay out of the water that day,” said Galloway.

Right now there are $100,000 budgeted for advertising beach safety education within Walton County. Public Information Manager David Demarest said they spend $1.6 million on lifeguards on the beach. More than $3.6 million of the TDC’s overall budget is spent on beach safety yearly.

“The important thing with the safety messaging is that they get it while they are here in the market,” said South Walton TDC PIO David Demarest.

Not only will flags be on display on beaches, but the TDC is going to have beach flag warning systems on free swag just like foam football.

“A tad ironic because we were already in talks with the TDC about upping the game on messaging, and so we are in the process of that,” said SWFD beach safety director David Vaughan. “Producing PSA’s, getting more swag like promotional materials and going out in the community.”

Vaughan said nothing beats boots on the ground when it comes to keeping visitors safe on the beach. 

“We do the best with what we got but we are always looking to do more,” said Vaughan.

Residents tell me they will be bringing their concerns to the county board of commissioners to see what more can also be done.

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