You’d be hard pressed to find a beach in Southwest Florida during Spring Break that isn’t packed with beachgoers and water enthusiasts.
Sunshine, white sand and sea-glass colored surf are some of the Gulf Coast’s biggest attractions—but before you strap on your sandals and grab your folding beach chairs, there are a few safety points we think you need to know.
Have you ever noticed different colored flags on the beach, usually near the entrance? Like a traffic signal, beach warning flags could be green, yellow or red. Green means it’s safe to go swimming; if you see a yellow flag, use caution, and watch out for one or two red ones. One red flag means dangerous conditions. Two means it’s too dangerous to go out at all.
If you only see one red flag, it could mean high surf, dangerous currents, or both. If you get caught in a rip current , make sure you relax, swim parallel to the shore and back to land at an angle. These monsters are aren’t even a match for olympic swimmers. If you see a red flag and a powerful, narrow channel of fast moving water, it’s best to avoid the Gulf altogether.
Stringrays are another thing you should be aware of. Do the stingray shuffle from May to October to avoid the stingray hop of pain. These prehistoric looking critters like to hide in the water under thin layers of sand near the shore. If you shuffle your feet along the bottom, the stingrays will feel the vibrations from your feet and have a chance to scurry away before you encounter them.
Lightning is also another concern. If you see storm clouds or know there’s lightning in the area, don’t chance it, and get out of the water as soon as possible. Florida is hot and humid and surrounded by two warm bodies of water. That sea breeze brings hot air inland, and it rises to form towering thunderclouds.
According to CBS News , in 2017, the Sunshine State led the country in the number of lightning strikes and deaths.
If you’re planning on cruising out to the beach, keep these safety tips in mind so you can have the best time possible. Enjoy the surf, sun and sand without the stress and let us know what other tips you have to keep beachgoers safe!