Memorial Day weekend means lots of fun in the sun for families visiting Panama City Beach, which also might include some swimming out in the water.
But did you know if you enter the water during a double red flag day you could get arrested? Well, that's something the Bay County Sheriff's office wants to let you know, ultimately to keep you safe.
"I think in 2008 an ordinance came into effect at the Bay County Sheriff's office that basically said if you enter the water during a double red flag day, you can be sited or arrested," said BCSO Sergeant, Steve Nagy.
This Memorial Day weekend, Nagy will be one of many officers patrolling the beaches to keep you safe. He says threat of the double red flag citation or arrest has made people think smarter about the decision to swim in unsafe waters.
"I think it has helped talking to people and letting them know you can be arrested. It is a deterrent," said Nagy.
And the numbers don't lie. Before the ordinance was enacted, BCSO officers responded to 152 calls for swimmers in distress from may 2008 to may 2009. In that same time frame from 2011 to present, they've only seen 45.
One dad vacationing this weekend says he knows a little about the flag but was surprised to learn about the double flag citation.
"You kind of want to come down and enjoy the beach, not get in trouble too and have people come searching for you and drag you out," said Alan Harpman.
Rob Angelastri gets a front row seat to activities in the Gulf from his beach rental hut on the West End. He says it's important for beach goers to look up and pay attention.
"I tell them about it because I know they'll go in when it's double red flag and guess who has to help them out. Me," said Angelastri.
"We want people to have a good time and the last thing we want to do is harass you and give you a hard time. We really don't like to rely on that and we want people to use good common sense," said Nagy.
Officials with Bay County Sheriff's Office say they don't want to ruin anybody's fun and they certainly don't want to arrest anyone. They just want to remind you to be safe out there this weekend.