What Do the Beach Flags Mean?

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Florida adheres to the International Lifesaving Federation beach warning flag program. This beach warning flag system was developed to help avoid confusion created by the wide range of flags that were being used in different coastal communities throughout Florida. The consistency of beach flag usage throughout the state is a collective effort to increase public safety. However, please keep in mind that absence of flags does not always assure safe waters and you should always remain alert and use good judgement when you visit Florida beaches…or any beach.

If you are a Florida resident or visitor, it is a good idea to get to know the meaning of the flags on our beaches. They are there for our safety, so they could save your life or the life of someone else. Here is a handy guide to help you know the difference…

  • Double red flags mean that the danger factor has risen so high that beach waters are actually closed to the public.
  • A single red flag means that the water is still extremely hazardous, with high surf and strong currents.
  • Yellow means your surf and/or currents yield a medium risk.
  • Green denotes a lower hazard, meaning calm conditions, but you should still exercise caution.
  • Purple indicates that dangerous marine life has been spotted in the area.

It helps to remember if you picture a traffic light. The redder it is, the more urgent it is to stop. Yellow is more moderate and green is calmer. For purple, hmmm…maybe you think of the purple people eater!