Flags at the Beach and What They Mean

June 21st, 2012 at 10:30 am by under FOX10 Stormtracker Weather

So I’m sure many of you on the Gulf Coast a time or two have noticed the flags at the beaches and wondered what each one of them specifically means and also wondered could you get in trouble for violating closed waters.  Well, each flag does have a purpose, and yes violating closed waters can get you in trouble but mostly for your own personal safety.

Blue and Purple Flags

These flags don’t mean that the currents are rough, but they mean that certain marine life could ruin your beach experience.  Here on the Gulf Coast that risk is mainly from jellyfish.  If the waters are closed when these flags are out, that means that the marine life present is extremely dangerous.

Green Flags

The green flags mean that everything is in the all-clear and it’s safe to swim in the water, but as always use caution cause the beaches can sometimes be unpredictable.

Yellow Flags

The yellow flags mean that ocean conditions are rough but not life threatening. You should only swim near lifeguard stands on yellow flag days as the surf is rough and rip current risks are prevalent. If you aren’t a strong swimmer it’s recommended to wear a life jacket.

Red Flags

The red flags mean that the surf and rip current risk is extremely high and only strong swimmers should enter the water.  Everyone else should stay out.

Double Red Flags

This means that the waters are closed, primarily for safety reasons due to dangerous beach conditions or a local event prevents swimmers to enter the waters.  Anyone in the water during double red flag is prohibited.


So, what happens if you violate this policy?  You can be fined.  It’s the same as if you violate the speed limit. Break the law, get a ticket.  This does happen in the event that someone willfully violates the flag postings. Most of the time you’ll get a warning but in some cases it has happened that tickets are written.  So it’s best to stay away from the water during double red flags mainly for your own safety.

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