Florida Beach Warning Flag Colours

Florida beach warning flags [Courtesy of the Orange Beach Fire Department]
Florida beach warning flags [Courtesy of the Orange Beach Fire Department]

Florida Beach Warning Flag Colours

In 2005, the Florida Legislature agreed on a uniform colour scheme for the beach warning flags so no matter where you go in Florida, the warning flag colours and meanings will be the same.

The new system uses four colours; three to indicate the sea state - red, yellow and green and one other colour; purple to warn of dangerous marine life. As well as the flags you should also find multi-lingual signs nearby explaining the colours and the nature of the warnings.

These are the standard flag colours used throughout the state of Florida:

  • Green signifies a low hazard with calm conditions. Even when the flag is green, you should still take care and watch in case the conditions change. Dangerous rip currents can appear without warning
  • Yellow indicates a medium hazard with moderate surf and/or currents. Advice is to take extra care and only enter the water if you are a strong swimmer
  • Red indicates a high hazard with severe surf and/or currents. Advice is to avoid entering the water. Only the most experienced swimmers should consider entering the water as conditions could be hazardous
  • Red with a no swimming symbol means the beach and/or the water is closed to the public. This is flown as a double red flag and can indicate a number of dangers such as severe currents or surf, water pollution, predatory fish or lightning
  • Purple indicates hazards from dangerous marine life in the vicinity such as sharks, stingrays or jelly fish

The purple marine life warning flag is flown in conjunction with the sea state green, yellow or red flags.

Note that a double red flag indicates that the beach and/or the sea is closed to the public and you should not enter the sea under any circumstances.

When arriving on a beach, check for manned lifeguard towers. Flags are flown from the towers and at other points on the beach. Also bear in mind that the surf and currents can change throughout the day and the absence of any flags does not mean the water is necessarily safe. Statistics show that you are five times safer swimming on a beach that has lifeguards on duty than you are on a beach without any lifeguards.

Remember, think “Ocean Smart” and only swim when there are lifeguards on duty. Read our safety tips when on the beach in Florida.

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