First Alert Weather Academy: Beach Warning Flags

First Alert Weather Academy: Beach Warning Flags

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Beach season is in full swing making it the perfect time to refresh your memory on what the different beach warning flags stand for.

There are five main warning flags you could see on your next trip to the beach:

Green, yellow red, double red and purple.

Beach Warning Flags
Beach Warning Flags (Source: NOAA)

On calm days along the Georgia and South Carolina coast, lifeguards will be flying a green flag. That means the hazard risk is low and that it is safe to swim. Even with calm conditions, it is important to exercise caution and supervise children.

Yellow flags are the next step up, but they are pretty common for our area. When a yellow flag is present there is a moderate risk for rip currents and waves area a little on the rough side. It's recommended that swimmers use extreme caution if getting into the water.

Red flags indicate severe hazards in the water. This means the surf is dangerous with big waves and strong rip currents. It's recommended that only strong swimmers get in the water and as always, swim near a lifeguard if possible.

Unlike a single red flag, the water is closed to the public once the double red flags are flying. Double red flags indicate life-threatening conditions, even for the strongest swimmers and surfer It usually takes a tropical system for us to see double red flags in our area.

You might also see a purple flag flying alongside these flags, which indicates that dangerous marine life has been spotted in the water. From sharks to stingrays and Portuguese Man O’ War it is definitely important to know if any of these animals have been seen before deciding to go in the water!

These sometime wash up on our beaches. Even dead organisms can sting!
These sometime wash up on our beaches. Even dead organisms can sting! (Source: NOAA)

So, next time you go to the beach, check out which color flag is flying before going in the water. If you need more information about current beach conditions, you can always talk with the lifeguard on duty.

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