The Beach Flag Warning System

Tenth Edition Here in South Walton
The Beach Flag Warning System
Our local Tourism Development Council, Visit South Walton promotes this system to keep us safe in the water.

Our local Tourism Development Council, Visit South Walton promotes this system to keep us safe in the water.

Established by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the South Walton Fire District manages the Beach Flag Warning System across our 26 miles of beautiful beaches in a concerted effort to educate and inform residents and visitors alike. We consider the beach to be our greatest amenity here in Alys Beach, the reason we are here! It’s critically important that our residents, guests, and neighbors know how to enjoy our beaches safely.

The topography of the Gulf of Mexico coastal region is characterized by sandbars and soft, fine white sand. While this makes our beaches and waters strikingly beautiful, it also makes them prone to strong shifts in currents and, specifically, rip currents. Rip currents are driven by wind conditions and are formed when a break in a sandbar creates a pull of water through a narrow channel out to sea. When caught in a rip current, swimmers may be prone to panic as they are rapidly pulled out into deeper waters, so it’s important to know how to handle them. If you find yourself in a rip current, rather than fight the current, you will want to float with it until it releases its grip, then swim parallel to shore away from the channel, and then back into shore.

The Beach Flag Warning System is devised to make beach goers aware of surf conditions and prohibit swimming in unsafe conditions where currents are too volatile. While green and yellow flags indicate conditions where safety risks are lower, waters are relatively calm, and caution should still be exercised, and purple flags indicate the presence of dangerous marine life in the water (jellyfish, etc.), red flags indicate more severe conditions. A single red flag indicates that currents are strong and/or surf is high, and “knee deep is too deep.” A double red flag indicates that the water is closed to swimmers and beach goers and, for your protection, entering the Gulf while double red flags are flying can result in a $500 fine and criminal charges. It is against Walton County ordinance to enter the water during double red flag conditions.


Whether you are here year-round or just here enjoying vacation time, we implore you to yield to the Beach Flag Warning System and employ safe practices for your time at the beach. While the flags and the coded key are located at our beach accesses, you can also text “SAFETY” to 31279 to have current Gulf conditions and flag updates sent directly to your device. For our Alys Beach homeowners and team members, our Alys Beach App also offers the current Beach Flag status and a conditions update from the South Walton Fire District. While you’re here with us, we want you to thoroughly enjoy the refreshing beauty of our beaches, safely, and create only the most wonderful memories with your friends, family and loved ones!

Captured at Alys Beach on 26Oct2020 by Bryan Johnson Studio.
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