Play it Safe
Before heading out to the beach, check for current beach conditions to ensure you have a safe and fun experience. There are several ways to check beach conditions:
BEACH FLAG WARNING SYSTEM
Beach warning flags are posted at all public beach areas in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Gulf State Park. Conditions are monitored throughout the day.
(Moderate Surf and/or Currents)
(High Surf and/or Strong Currents)
|Dangerous Marine Life
Water Closed to Public
Please remember that the absence of red flags does not assure safe conditions. Within the corporate city limits of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, it is illegal to enter the Gulf of Mexico when two red flags are displayed.
Watch this short video to learn about the beach safety flag meanings.
SIGN UP FOR daily beach conditions
Sign up to receive daily beach conditions and warning flag status by texting ALBEACHES to 888777. For additional weather alerts and warnings for the local area text ALERTBALDWIN to 888777. You can easily opt out from text alerts by texting STOP.
CHECK BEACH CONDITIONS BY PHONE
BEWARE OF RIP CURRENTS
Rip currents are channelized currents of water flowing away from shore at surf beaches. They typically form at breaks in sandbars, and near structures such as jetties and piers.
If caught in a rip current:
- Remain calm. Fighting the rip current can exhaust you.
- Escape the current by swimming parallel to the shoreline. When free of the current, swim at an angle—away from the current—toward shore.
- If unable to escape by swimming, float, or tread water. When the current weakens, swim at an angle away from the current toward the shore.
- If at any time you feel you will be unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself: face the shore, call, or wave for help. To help someone else caught in a rip current, seek help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not present, yell instructions on how to escape or throw the victim something that floats. Call 911 for further assistance.
BE A SAFE SWIMMER
Swimming in the Gulf is much different than swimming in a pool. It is important to respect the strength of the sea and the marine life that lives there.
- ALWAYS check surf and weather conditions before heading to the beach and observe beach flags.
- Never swim alone. Always stay in groups. Don’t wander too far from shore.
- Don’t swim near piers, pilings, and platforms. Exercise caution when swimming in areas between sandbars or near steep drop-offs.
- Do not swim in areas being used by fishermen. Avoid swimming in areas where schools of fish are present. Diving seabirds are good indicators of areas to avoid.
- Alcohol and swimming do not mix.
- Use extra caution when water is murky. Avoid being in the water during dusk, nighttime, or twilight hours.
- Avoid wearing shiny jewelry and clothing.
- Stay informed of local weather and beach conditions.
PRACTICE SUN SAFETY
- Protect Your Skin: Always wear a sunscreen appropriate for your skin type, paying special attention to face, nose, ears, shoulders, and feet. Protect your lips as well. Most people don’t realize how much sun they’re getting until it’s too late. Sunscreen should be applied at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and should be reapplied every two hours or after getting wet.
- Children Need Extra Protection: Liberally apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Make sure children wear sun hats and sunglasses. Re-apply sunscreen frequently, especially after swimming.
- Drink Plenty of Water: Even if you don’t feel thirsty, your body needs water to keep cool. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine, which can dehydrate you.
- Protect Your Eyes: Ultra-violet (UV) rays can damage your eyes. Don’t forget your sunglasses.
- Beware of Heat Stroke: Watch for hot, red, and dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. If someone shows symptoms, call 911. Keep the victim lying down and cool the body by placing ice packs or cold packs on wrists, ankles, armpits, and neck. Wet towels may also be used.
- Jellyfish Sting Relief: Use saltwater to wash the sting. Apply rubbing alcohol or vinegar to the sting area. Do not rub the sting area. If the victim has trouble breathing or swallowing, seek immediate medical attention.
- Sunburn Relief: Drink lots of water. Soak in a cool bath or apply cold compresses several times a day. Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen may help relieve pain and swelling, and aloe vera may help relieve the burn. Do not apply petroleum jelly or oil-based lotions.