This strong current of water, also called an UNDERTOW, is deadlier than any storm. It can pull the strongest swimmer out to sea.
Before going to the beach, listen to the radio or watch for the surfing warning flags. If there are, do not go swimming.
If caught in a rip tide:
Do not panic and do not fight it. You cannot out-swim the fast-moving current and you will only tire yourself and make it harder to survive.
Swim parallel to the shore. A rip tide is usually no more than a few hundred feet wide. Once you are free, swim back to shore.
If you can't swim parallel to the shore, go with the current. As you get farther from shore, the current will dissipate. You can then swim back to shore by avoiding the same area.
Vacation home owners/renters beware Sandcastle Esc
I recently rented a home from Sandcastle escapes/ Beach seekers. The home was a bit of disappointment with less than comfortable seating and missing standard amenities such as minimal amounts of dishes. I posted a review of the home on Sandcastles site and it was removed. I contacted their owner to find out why my review had been deleted. He sent me a horrible email going on and on about a review I had not even written. In his email he even called me ignorant. Home owners....beware....allowing this company to manage your home could be less than profitable. Please read Mr Williams email and you will understand my concerns.
Sorry for the confusion. We do keep most of our reviews as you can tell, if you had bothered to take the time to check out some of the other properties. After reviewing your comment from our small archive of "not to be posted comments" I would like to explain why your comments where not worthy of publishing. Our company rents hundreds of properties similar to the property you stayed in. management involves many task that you are obviously ignorant too. So please allow me to explain. Like all other management companies we try our best to offer a nice clean home close to the beach. The hardest part of our job is not dealing with comments such as yours but more important things like housekeeping and maintenance advertising and owner relations. As per your comment posted on our site we did not get a fair chance to fix these problems until your departure.Your excuse was that the phone did not work in the unit and your cell phone was not getting good service, although our office is less than 1000 yards from the home you rented you were unable to stop by to report these problems until your departure. If you found food on the plates and light bulbs out based on your comments and reaction to the removal of the review, I would assume the food on the plates was minimal and the other problems were either one of which we do not control or could have fixed quickly had we known. However, instead of giving the management company a chance to fix the problems, Answer an email sent out by the same company you would not recommend that the home was great but the property management was not. That would be similar to me posted a sign on your forehead that says " I look good but have terrible hygiene" It would be my guess that not many people would talk to you. Your thoughts are noted but because you did not stop by our office to report the items while you where at the home to access the problems ourselves, we have decided not NOT post these negative comments about OUR company on OUR site. If you would like to post a comment that is relevant to the home or allow us to remove the derogatory comment regarding our company I would be happy to replace the review.
Sandcastle Escapes and Beach Seekers
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Luxury Travel
- Family Travel
I’ve lived off the Atlantic Ocean for 20 years now and during that time have lived through quite a few hurricanes. Unfortunately The emerald coast (Destin Area) is a prime location for hurricanes.
This area is put on alert and we all do our hurricane checklist several times a year. Hurricanes are also not something to play around with. Be aware and be safe. In the case of a bad hurricane you need to have everything you need to survive without any assistance, water or electricity for a MINIMUM of 72 hours! It is up to you to be self sufficient.
Officially the Atlantic Hurricane season is June 1 to November 30th. However, the most probable time for hurricanes is from mid September to mid October (think September 11 to October 11).
My Advice if there is a storm in the Gulf
+ Be aware of the storm and the “cone of uncertainty”. When there is a storm in the Gulf check in at least every 12 hours. In 12 hours the category (how dangerous the storm is) and the hit zone can change dramatically
+ Get supplies on the hurricane checklist early. Stores will run out of supplies! See the checklist below…the most important things are lots of water, gas in your car, food that does not need to be heated or refrigerated (remember the can opener) for you/your pets and children, gas in the car, cash (ATMs don’t work when there is no electricity) and medications
+ Know the hurricane evacuation zone you are in, the storm category rating, and the cone of uncertainty. Use this information to decide on your action plan. Do it early and follow it.
+ If you need to evacuate LEAVE EARLY – I cannot stress this enough. You do NOT want to be on the road when everyone else is evacuating since a 60 mile drive can take you 3 to 6 hours at this time. (be sure to bring your hurricane supplies and a full tank of gas)
My Plan (as a Floridian - I thought this may be helpful to tourists)
Category 1 storm – Have supplies for a week, remove everything from patios and yard (it can fly around and do damage to myself and others).
Category 2 storm – Follow #1 plus board up the house. Since I am in the first evacuation zone (A) I consider staying with a friend in a more secure location (within the local area)
Category 3 storm – Follow #1 and #2 and go to an alternate location. Consider flying out of Tampa or staying with friends out of town. At the very least move to evacuation zone C
Category 4 or 5 – Leave town…most likely via plane. At this point the roads throughout Florida are probably grid locked. Call the airport; find a flight up north or west (Vegas, Philly, Toronto etc) and go. Do NOT wait to the last minute....airports close and the flights get booked. The best Florida hurricane I ever "went" through...was the one where I flew to Vegas for 4 days...I missed the mess in Florida, had a wonderful mini vacation AND felt like a mini celebrity in Vegas (the hotel in Vegas even comped quite a few of my meals etc since they felt sorry for me)
Most news agencies get their information from here and I’ve found that this is the best resource for information
Florida is divided into various evacuation zones. This is mainly based on the risk of flooding which is a main concern during hurricanes. The state orders mandatory evacuations based on these flood zones. Zone A is evacuated first, then B, then Z.
See the local news media for evacuation zones
The Red Cross will open shelters for those who have no place to go. My recommendation is to plan early, find a friend or a hotel before using shelters. If you go bring everything on your list plus, pillows, eye masks, ear plugs and games to pass the time.
see the local news for shelter openings
The ocean is not a swimming pool
There are a few things to note when going swimming in the ocean. First it is not a swimming pool. The ocean is a home to several kinds of marine life and you are entering their space.
We stayed a week and never saw anything of danger but there is always a chance.
Do not go out to the sandbar or past it as there are a number of fish that swim around the sandbar and sharks could be feeding there.
Excessive splashing and jewelry attract sharks so leave the rings and bracelets at home.
I suggest that you go no further than chest high.When the waves roll in they have tremendous power and height. We would be only hip high and the waves would literally be over our heads and push you to the ground. Sometimes the waves are mild and not so strong but never take a chance. Always be aware of your younger children they could be swept away in a moment if they are not used to the water and venture out to far.
Always watch the flags on the beach. Green means "Go for it, swimming is great"; Yellow means "Have fun but always be cautious"; Red means " I wouldn't take the chance"; Red over Red means "Don't Swim"; and Purple means " Dangerous marine life have been seen in the water such as jellyfish or even sharks" While we were there for a week the yellow flag was there every day (I think that is just to make sure you remember to be careful) except one day when there was a storm out in the ocean and the red flag was flying. There were still some people out in the ocean on that day but not many.
Riptides can be very dangerous, but you can get out of them if you don't panic. If you see that you have been caught in a riptide call out to someone so they will know you are struggling and then swim parallel with the beach until you are free from the riptide. Do not try to swim to shore, it will only cause you to panic more as you will not be able to break free.
When there is a red flag out, DO NOT go swimming in the ocean. This indicates dangerous swimming conditions. Many area beaches are monitered by lifeguards, but not all. Rip tide can suddenly catch you off-guard and sweep you up in a current. Make sure you swim with a buddy!
If you are caught in a rip tide, DO NOT FIGHT IT. You will quickly tire yourself out. Intead, allow yourself to be caught in the current, and swim sideways to gradually escape it. If you avoid struggling and don't panic, you'll be fine.
DON"T FEED THE SEAGULS!
Please, please, please. Do. Not. Feed. The. Seaguls.
If you do, they will swarm all over you. Not only will they poop on your head, but they can be VERY aggressive. I've had seaguls fly up and literally bite a sandwich out of my hand. The reason they are like this is because people feed them!
If you feed them once, they will not leave you alone. All day. Trust me, not fun!!
Make sure you slather on sunscreen often, especially on your first day out in the sun. Getting a nasty sunburn on Day 1 is a quick way to put a damper on your vacation! Reapply after going in the water, or toweling off. Sunscreen is necessary even on cloudy days -- just because the sun is hidden doesn't mean harmful UV rays aren't present!
If you do get burnt, apply aloe vera gel often to avoid peeling and to ease the pain. You can buy it at Walgreens, Target, Walmart, or any Destin grocery store.
DO NOT GO TO THE WALMART IN DESTIN UNLESS IT IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. I'm sorry to shout, but I'm dead serious. The Walmart is an absolute nightmare. It is filled with throngs of half-clothed tourists, and dedicates about 1/3 of the total store area to cheap souvenirs.
It is ALWAYS crowded, and at night (when it isn't crowded) it is so understaffed that you end up waiting in line anyways. The staff is very rude and has no working knowledge of Walmart. In addition, the customer service line is always extremely long and slow.
If you need something, a Target is a wonderful alternative. It just opened in Destin, and is located at the intersection of Gulf Shore Dr and Hwy 98 (near Winn Dixie). You can't miss it. Not only is the store clean, but it is completely hassle free!
The police are everywhere in Destin and Ft Walton, and are harder to spot since most cops drive SUV/Jeep vehicles. One area in particular that is notorious for the police is downtown Ft. Walton after dark. The area right after Brooks Bridge in Ft Walton has a very low speed limit (25-35), and BE CAREFUL when driving through it. It is quite easy to cruise up to 45+mph, and then you are at risk for a traffic ticket.
Many times, I will pass through this area after midnight and see anywhere from 4-6 cop cars just waiting to pull people over. Take this into consideration when driving around at night!
Quite frequently, the police will set up a DUI checkpoint either on Okaloosa Island or in downtown Ft Walton. They will stop every car, and check for drunk driving. Although cab rides are very expensive, it is cheaper (and safer) in the long run to take a cab and avoid a potential DUI.
I was in Destin during the time when 3 people were attacked by sharks, one ending fatally. This is a tough subject to speak about since I really didn't see any sign of sharks in the area and never really saw any problems myself while we were there. Just be aware of this possibility and always be extremely careful. We chose to stick really close to the shore, which I normally do anyway. I saw on the news while we were there that someone had filmed some footage of a large school of bait fish that could be seen from far away. They were very close to the shore and all around the swimmers who seemed to have no idea they were there. I understand the sharks are going for these bait fish and feel threatened by humans whom they believe to also be going for these bait fish. All I can say is be extremely careful. There were still many, many people in the ocean while we were there even though we all knew of the possibilities of sharks. It wasn't slowing us down, so don't think you need to avoid the area for this. Just keep it in the back of your mind and remember to always use extreme caution.
- Family Travel
Danger in the ocean
Dangers in the ocean include:
Tragically, a 14 yr old girl was killed by a shark in this area recently (June 2005) & my heart goes out to her family.
Be very careful when going into the ocean, and do not get past the 2nd sandbar (or near the edge of it). This is where sharks feed, and it is rare that they come in closer to shore, but it does happen.
Statistically, there are more deaths from drownings due to riptides than shark attacks, but beware of both. The flag system should be heeded - red means danger & you shouldn't swim; yellow means caution; and green means there is a low risk. Most beaches in Destin have NO LIFEGUARDS, so keep that in mind & don't take unnecessary risks!
Riptides are currents which push you AWAY from the shore, and if you get in one, you should swim to the side (parallel with the shore) for about 20 - 30 feet, then swim toward shore. Before swimming in the ocean, make sure EVERYONE in your party understands this!
Jellyfish come around occasionally, and they hurt when they sting, but they're not life threatening.
- Diving and Snorkeling
Watch out for the undertoe or riptides in the ocean. They can suck you under fast & bring you out further in the water than you want to go. It's really hard to avoid them when they're really strong. They've got a system in this area where they use colored flags to warn you of the surf conditions.
A red flag, like the one shown in this picture, warns of dangerous surf conditions & that riptides are present. It says to stay out of the water.
Red over red flag indicates the surf conditions are extremely dangerous & that the water is closed to public use.
A yellow flag indicates what you would expect...to procede with caution.
Blue or green flags indicate safe surf conditions.
This year they've added purple flags to indicate the presence of "marine pests" which often times meant jellyfish.
In order to escape rip currents the Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau say you should not panic or swim against the currents. You should float calmly until it lessens, swim parallel to shore until out of the rip current, or shout and wave for assistance.
- School Holidays
- Family Travel
Watch out for seaweed & jellyfish
If you go too late in the season you may run into a problem with lots of seaweed in the ocean. It's very disgusting & very disappointing if you go during this time because the color of the water is no longer as beautiful as it usually is, and you come out of the water finding seaweed in all kinds of places in your bathing suit. Also the jellyfish tend to be more numerous at this time of the year, too. Late in the season would be considered late August-September.
This picture of the flag system was given to us at our condo and comes from the Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc. They've recently added a purple flag to warn of "marine pests", which in most cases for us meant jellyfish.
- Family Travel
- Water Sports
Hurricane Season is June 1 through November 30. In the event of an evacuation
advisory, follow the evacuation route signs.
Hurricane pronounced rotary circulation, constant wind speed of 74 mph or more.