Recommendations for "SoWal Good Tourist Guide" to post in vacation rentals
As promised, I've attached below the information I post in a very visible place in our vacation rental cottages so that guests will know how to be good citizens of SoWal beaches. Most guests do want to be good citizens of SoWal, yet many don't know the regulations and thus don't know they should stay off the dunes, not shine bright lights at night, etc. So, I find that our guests appreciate knowing this information. You are welcome to use this list if you find it helpful. Also, I'd be interested in hearing what else should be on this list or if anything should be reworded. I hope it's helpful.
WALTON COUNTY BEACH REGULATIONS
Thank you for adhering to the following Walton County Regulations. These regulations are designed to protect your safety (we care about the safety of our guests) and the beauty of our beautiful beaches for today and generations to come.
Flag system: Please respect Mother Nature. The ocean is lovely, but has a mind of its own. Although the ocean everywhere can surprise people with dangerous conditions, South Walton County has taken special care to warn residents and guests of potentially dangerous conditions by implementing a flag system. Green indicates favorite swimming conditions. Yellow means moderate surf and currents. Purple alerts the public to dangerous marine life. Red means rough conditions, including strong surf and rip currents (stay out of ocean). Red over red bans the public from entering Gulf waters with the exception of surfers tethered to their boards. For your safety, note the following:
• Rip tides: Rip tides can be severe, so please take the flag system seriously. Remember, you can build sandcastles and gaze at the ocean or swim at the pool for safe swimming when flags indicate the ocean isn't safe for swimming.
• How to swim out of a rip tide: Riptides are fast-moving currents that sometimes occur in the ocean near the shore. Although they are dangerous, they tend to cover a narrow area. If you find yourself caught in a riptide, stay calm, swim parallel to the shore until you swim out of the riptide area, then swim safely to shore.
Protect Sand Dunes. Don’t walk on beach vegetation and always used beach access areas.
Protect Sea Turtles: Sea Turtles are an endangered species. They lay their eggs along the Beaches of South Walton. Avoid the use of flashlights near nests in the evening, do not leave beach chairs and other items on the beach overnight (they block the turtles' path), and keep your distance if you see turtles or eggs. Sea turtles are protected by federal and state law and substantial fines and federal imprisonment may result from killing, harming, or even interfering with a sea turtle.
Dog care: Dogs are allowed on the beach only between 6:00 pm and 8:00 am and only if they are owned by a local resident and if they have a beach tag permit. All dogs on the beach must be leashed. The owner of any animal is required to clean up any waste deposited by the animal on either public or private property. Failure to do so can result in a $50.00 fine. Dogs assisting people who are sight or hearing impaired are allowed on the beach with owner at any time.
Littering: No littering on the beach and no glass containers on the beach.
Alcohol: Alcohol is allowed on the beach except in the state parks. Again, no glass.
Vehicles: Driving on the beach is permitted only in certain areas and only by Walton County property owners with a vehicle permit decal and only between the hours of sunrise and 10:00 pm except for vehicles recovering boats. The permits are available for $150 for vehicles not launching boats and $200 for vehicles launching boats. Beach speed limit is 15 mph.
Bonfires: Beach bonfires are permitted with a permit from the South Walton Sheriff’s Department. Permits are $50.00 with $25 refundable after a deputy inspects the area. The permits are good for one fire 3 feet by 3 feet, for one 24-hour period. Bonfires can be anywhere on the beach seaward of the vegetation line and 250 feet away from any sea turtle nest.
Sand removal: It is unlawful to remove sand from the beach.
Camping: Overnight camping is prohibited.
Fishing License: Adults between the ages of 16 and 64 need a fishing license before fishing in the South Walton waters. Licenses may be purchased through the county tax collector’s office and at many bait and tackle shops. You may also call 1-888-347-4356 or visit www.marinefisheries.org to buy a license by phone or over the Internet. If you are taking a charter to go fishing, ask your charter boat captain if licenses are included in the trip. Many charters will take care of that for you and include the licenses in the fee.
Advice: Don’t swim in the Gulf when jelly fish or Portuguese men-of-war are present. If stung by a jelly fish, rinse area with seawater (not fresh water because it will increase pain). Do not rub or apply ice. Apply acetic acid (vinegar) or isopropyl alcohol. Remove tentacles from skin immediately with tweezers to stop more poison from entering the skin. Apply shaving cream or paste of baking soda or mud. Shave area with razor or knife and reapply vinegar or alcohol to fix unactivated nematocysts. Immobilize the extremity to prevent spreading of poison. Hydrocortisone cream may be applied 2-3 times daily for itchen. Discontinue immediately if any signs of infection appea. Eye stings should be irrigated with 1 gallon of fresh water. Watch for reactions that may suggest an allergic reaction – shortness of breath, general itching beyond the immediate area of the sting, or other symptoms that may suggest an allergic reaction.
Thanks for adhering to these regulations and remembering that we are partners with Mother Nature in keeping the SoWal beaches among the most beautiful and environmentally-protected in the U.S.