5 Destin Beach Safety Tips

Know Before You Go

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Our Ocean Reef Resorts guests come here to enjoy the beautiful beach. Sugary white sand shores and the glowing jewel toned gulf are hard to beat! We’ve been providing fine distinctive vacation rentals to our esteemed guests for decades and many are right on the beach from Destin to Miramar Beach and all along Scenic 30A in South Walton. Some of you may be new to the shore scene and since not too many places in America are located on a wonderful beach you may need a few beach safety tips from locals.

The Emerald Coast has a special flag system to let you know what to expect in the gulf on any given day as far as swimming conditions are concerned.  These colorful flags are flown at all beach access locations to let you know about current water conditions. These flags are Green, Yellow, Purple and Red. A green flag flying means conditions are calm, waves are low and there are no notable water hazards. Yellow urges swimmers to use caution since it means that waves are moderately high and there may be unexpected currents. Purple means there may be hazardous marine life present which usually means jelly fish. Red flags signify that conditions are considered very challenging with high waves, strong surf and associated currents so only experienced swimmers should brave the waters. When Double Red Flags are flying the water is considered dangerous and closed to all swimmers by law. This usually only happens when a strong storm is brewing off shore.

Destin Beach Safety Tip 2

Inexperienced swimmers may be swept away when they get caught in rip currents which are sometimes misnamed “undertows”. Rip currents do NOT ever suck or tow you underwater so the term undertow is false. However a rip current can be deadly if you panic and don’t navigate them correctly. A rip current is simply a river or stream of water that temporarily flows a fairly short distance from the shore into the open gulf. They are formed by tides that can create a deep eddy of water near the beach developed by a sand bar. Eventually the sandbar breaks from wave action at a certain point and the water behind it simply flows out into the gulf for a few minutes. The current can be rather rapid but it does not suck you under. It can catch unsuspecting swimmers off guard, they panic and swim directly into the on-coming current which is virtually impossible. All you need to do if you get caught in one is keep your cool and swim sideways along the shore. You will leave this narrow “river” of water and be able to easily swim back to shore. You can also ride it out and float on the current until it stops which of course it always does! However rip currents may take you up to 50 or more yards out so you will have a longer swim back to the beach. You can sometimes spot a rip current since they look like a surface stream of water pouring out away from the shore. Watch out for long sandbars that have a lot of fairly deep water paralleling the beach with open water beyond since waves can cause a breach.

Beach Safety Tip 3

Usually the only thing you have to be aware of here is jelly fish, which can show up from time to time during the summer. They are more of a nuisance than anything else. If you do get a few stings, (they are not as bad as a wasp or hornet), rinse with salt water and then apply vinegar or a paste out of baking soda and salt water if it still hurts. You may also soak in a hot tub for about twenty minutes. It doesn’t last too long. You’ll be happy to know that dangerous shark encounters are a rare occurrence here or elsewhere. While there are literally millions of swimmers at the nation’s beaches only 19 shark attacks happen each year and hardly any are fatal. Fortunately sharks don’t like the taste of humans and will only go after you if they think you are a fish! That is unlikely so such encounters are very rare. However just to be on the safe side it is best not to swim at dawn, dusk, after dark or if the water is churned up cloudy. Try not to wear reflective jewelry, bright yellow bathing suits or swim really far out from shore.

Destin Beach Safety Tip 4

Here in Florida our tropical weather can change rather quickly! Thunderstorms may pop up at anytime but usually occur in the mid to late afternoons during the spring and summer months. Billowing cotton-like cumulus clouds fluff up on hot humid days as water vapor gets drawn up by the sun. They are quite beautiful to look at but can reach heights of up to 35,000 feet skyward and become thunderstorms. The most severe storms have an anvil shape because high jet stream currents shear off the tops. They can be seen coming for miles away but may move quite quickly. They always announce their imminent arrival with the sound of rumbling thunder so when you see one coming or hear the sound of thunder take cover ASAP. Lightning can strike miles away from the actual storm even when the sun is still shining at your location. You definitely do not want to be in the water or on a flat beach.  It is usually a good time to go grab a bite to eat, have a drink and wait for the storm to clear, which they usually in a fairly short period of time. Keeping track of The Weather Channel or even watching the skies on free phone apps like “my radar” can keep you informed in advance.

Destin Beach Safety Tip 5

The tropical sun is hotter in Florida than elsewhere since we’re closer to the equator than most of the nation and it makes a big difference. The sugary powder white color of our quartz crystal sand here also can exacerbate this potential problem since it reflects the rays and the sand is usually not hot. That and the fact that there is almost always a nice gulf breeze make you unaware of the sun’s intensity. You should always wear sun screen in Destin of at least 30 or more. Total sun block should be used by all fair skinned beachgoers especially on the first day down. Remember too that ultraviolet rays go through clouds easily so be sure to use sunscreen at all times to avoid being burned. Also stay hydrated throughout the day with water or non-alcoholic beverages to avoid heat exhaustion. Save those cold Coronas, delicious daiquiris or pina coladas for the evenings!

Now you know what the locals know to be safe on the beach in Destin.  Have a wonderful time at the beach residing at your own piece of paradise. Ocean Reef Resorts would love to have you as our guests. See you soon!