The sugar-white sand and emerald-colored water of our pristine beaches provide a great place to have fun, but be aware. When you go swimming, think about it. Don't just dive in. Make sure the water is deep enough. Don't surf unless you can swim, and never swim alone. If you go to the beach by yourself, go to an area where there are lifeguards.
The Gulf of Mexico has tides, currents, and washouts. Be aware of them. If you are caught in a washout, don't panic. Swim parallel to the beach until you can swim toward the shore without struggling. Look for the surf warning flags. A green flag means calm conditions - swim with usual care. The Yellow flag denotes rough surf or likely currents - swim with special caution. Don't swim if red flags are flying. This means dangerous conditions. If there is no flag flying, there is no lifeguard on duty, and a surf advisory is not available. During electrical storms, get off the beach.
For a fun and safe day at the beach, also see our beach safety section.