Beach Flag Warnings Explained

Beach Flag Warnings Explained

By Alice Phillips

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Why is is important to check the beach warning flags?

Frequent beach goers know that the weather can change in the blink of an eye. Florida’s Beach Warning Flag program uses a four-color system to show water conditions and potential safety risks. Stay in the know with what each flag means to ensure a safe beach day.

Think of the flags like traffic lights. When a green flag is flying, conditions are calm, but swimmers should always use caution. Larger waves and rip currents are still possible.

A yellow flag means rough waves and moderate rip currents. While it implies conditions are not life-threatening, there is potential for dangerous undertow and swimmers should be cautious.

A purple flag is flown when dangerous marine life has been spotted. Dangerous marine life could mean anything from jellyfish to sharks and swimmers should use extreme caution keeping a close watch on their surroundings.

Red flags are the most serious, warning swimmers of high surf and strong currents. A red flag should not be taken lightly and swimmers should use extreme caution. Two red flags closes the beach to the public and swimming is prohibited.

If you don’t see a flag, that does not mean the water is safe. Swimmers should always be aware of their surroundings and stay alert while in the water. If you see a flag and are unsure of what it means, ask a lifeguard or look for a sign indicating the meaning. 

For more safety advice while at the beach visit:

Beach Warning Flags Explained:

Green: Low hazard, calm conditions, exercise caution

Yellow: Low hazard, moderate surf and/or currents

Purple: High hazard, dangerous marine life

Red: High hazard, high surf and/or strong currents

Double Red: high hazard, beach closed to the public

No flag: still exercise caution