What do the beach flags mean?

BEACHES are a joyous place to spend a hot, sunny day at with all kinds of activities to do from sunbathing to swimming in the ocean.

Yet, there are many dangers to look out for at the seaside and lifeguards use flags to help to notify people of what to be careful of – but what do they all mean?

Red and yellow flag

This flag means that there are lifeguards on duty and therefore it is safe for you to swim.

It provides comfort to the public, in particular parents with young children, knowing that there is a trained professional on hand to help quickly and efficiently should you get into trouble on the beach and in the ocean.

It is advised that you know where the lifeguards are just in case problems arise.

This red and yellow flag provides people with some comfort knowing a lifeguard is around
This red and yellow flag provides people with some comfort knowing a lifeguard is around

Red flag

A red flag means you are in a dangerous area or high hazard with lifeguards not on duty here.

It is greatly advised that you do not go swimming in the sea in these areas as you could get hurt.

When a red flag is flying, it means that the sea conditions are rough and you should avoid going in for your own safety
When a red flag is flying, it means that the sea conditions are rough and you should avoid going in for your own safety

Yellow flag

This flag represents a medium hazard meaning that people should take extra caution when swimming or surfing in the area.

The ocean currents will be more treacherous but not too rough that you must avoid being in the water.

A yellow flag tells people to be careful when they are going into the ocean
A yellow flag tells people to be careful when they are going into the ocean

Green flag

A green flag indicates that it is a low hazard area, however this does not mean that you should let your guard down.

As with any situation, you should still be careful and make sure you know where a lifeguard is in case you do run into trouble.

A green flag indicates that the area is of low risk, but you are still advised to be careful
A green flag indicates that the area is of low risk, but you are still advised to be careful

Black and white flag

Another flag that informs you not to swim in that spot is the black and white one that means it is a water sports area.

With the likes of jet skis, paragliders and speed boats likely here, you could be seriously harmed and therefore it is advised that you stay away from this area unless you are partaking.

A black and white flag means that it is a watercraft only areaa
A black and white flag means that it is a watercraft only area

Yellow with black spot flag

In the complete opposite to the black and white flag, this signal means that watercraft use is prohibited.

This means that you cannot ride a jet ski or partake in water sports in this area.

If you see a yellow flag with a black spot in the middle, no watercrafts are permitted to be used in this area
If you see a yellow flag with a black spot in the middle, no watercrafts are permitted to be used in this area

Orange windsock

Unlike the flags above, the orange windsock does not provide an immediate warning or instruction.

Instead it is to show the direction and strength of the wind allowing people to judge how safe it is out to see.

This is especially the case if you are taking part in any water sports that rely on the wind as if it is too strong, it could make it difficult for you to control your equipment.

Meanwhile, if the wind is blowing in a particular direction, it could make returning to shore far more difficult for those swimming.

An orange windsock helps to tell the public how strong the winds are at the beach as well as their direction
An orange windsock helps to tell the public how strong the winds are at the beach as well as their direction

Purple flag

The purple flag indicates that there are dangerous marine life in the area.

These include jellyfish, stingrays and sharks that have been spotted in the water and could cause harm to you or your family.

It is advised that you avoid going into the sea.

A purple flag signifies that there are marine pests in the water that can be harmful to you
A purple flag signifies that there are marine pests in the water that can be harmful to you

Double red flags

The two red flags may either be one on top of another or next to each other, but they mean that the water is closed to public use.

You will not be allowed to swim in the ocean unless granted permission to do so.

This could be due to the potential of serious harm or because a private competition is being held at that location such as a sailing race.

This is one of the most important and cautionary flags on this list as this means people must not go swimming at all
This is one of the most important and cautionary flags on this list as this means people must not go swimming at all

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