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SWFD TO REMOVE BEACH SAFETY FLAGS DURING WINTER

Jan 7th, 2009 | 0

Beginning Jan. 1, 2009 the South Walton Fire District (SWFD) and the 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 December, January and February.
During the 2008 end of season review and analysis, one item reviewed was the beach safety flag warning system. The SWFD, along with the TDC, plans to focus attention on the beach safety flag-warning system in conjunction with SWFD lifeguards.
The International Life Saving Federation’s (ILSF) position is that “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.”
The SWFD and TDC note that during the months of December, January and February, there are no lifeguards on duty. According to SWFD Deputy Chief Sean Hughes, “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, contact Deputy Chief Sean Hughes, (850) 267-1298.

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