Beach warning flags: What does each color mean?

Each colored flag warns beach goers of different hazards in the water

File photo of Jacksonville Beach
File photo of Jacksonville Beach

Orlando, FLA. – The sun is shining, the weather is warming up which means many people will be heading to our local area beaches to enjoy time outside.

We all know you need to pack water for hydration, and several forms of sun protection when heading to the beach but knowing the potential threat beneath the surface is also key to having a safe beach day.

When you first arrive at the beach, take a moment to check on which colored flag is waving. These hazard flags can usually be found around the beach entrance or lifeguard stations. They come in an array of colors, each having a specific message.

Beach Warning Flag Legend:

  • Double Red Flag: Water is closed for public use. This could be due to tropical systems, rough weather or even issues with algae blooms or chemical spills.
  • Red Flag: High Hazard: Rough conditions such as strong surf and/or currents are present. All swimmers are discouraged from entering the water. Those entering the water should take great caution.
  • Yellow Flag: Medium Hazard. Moderate surf or currents are present. Weak swimmers are discouraged from entering the water. Caution should be exercised.
  • Green Flag: Low Hazard: Consistently calm conditions allows for many to enjoy the water, while also always remaining cautious.
  • Purple Flag: Dangerous marine life present: Marine pests like jellyfish, algae, etc. have been reported. This flag indicates that you should swim at your own risk. If conditions become too dangerous, this flag could be replaced with a double red.
  • Black and White Flag: Watercraft area. These flags may be used in pairs spaced apart to indicate a designated area or zone along a beach indicating area where non-powered watercrafts frequent.

About the Author: