Beginning January 1, 2009 the South Walton Fire District (SWFD) and the Beaches of South Walton (Tourist Development Center/TDC) will no longer fly “beach safety flags” on the 30 public beach access flag poles during the months of January and February.
The SWFD continues to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency, and economy of our Beach Safety Division. During the 2008 End of Season Review and Analysis, several program enhancements were developed. One item reviewed was the beach safety flag warning system. The SWFD, in unison the TDC, would like to more clearly focus attention on the beach safety flag warning system in conjunction with SWFD lifeguards.
Using the International Life Saving Federation’s (ILSF) position, “beach safety flags may help reduce the incidence of injury and drowning, but cannot assist those in distress. Therefore, these flags are only to be used on beaches where lifesavers qualified to ILS standards are on duty. Flags are not an acceptable substitute for properly trained and equipped rescuers, but rather a tool for their use.” as a model.
The SWFD and TDC want to emphasize the fact that during the months of December, January and February there are no lifeguards on duty. Without lifeguards on duty to educate the public regarding the flag system and make beach flag change determinations due to quickly deteriorating weather and surf conditions, it has been decided not to fly beach safety flags during the above mentioned months. After careful consideration regarding this decision, it is anticipated that when a greater emphasis is placed on the relationship between beach flags and lifeguards, there will be greater adherence to the beach warning flags when they are flown during the lifeguard season.
The surf conditions will continue to be monitored twice a day and the beach flag status will be updated on the SWFD web site at www.swfd.org
For more information, please contact Deputy Chief Sean Hughes at Station 3/Headquarters, 850-267-1298.
NOTE: The beach flag image link on the left column of this website will still have the current flag status posted.