If you’ve been to a number of beaches in a number of states, you’ve noticed that there are differing flag warning systems in place. It can seem pretty confusing! The State of Florida has one uniform beach flag warning system for the entire Sunshine State, encompassing both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Chicago, Illinois has its own system of colors for beach warning flags covering their 33 beaches on the shores of Lake Michigan. Galveston Island, Texas has yet another set of flag colors for its 32 miles of beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.
Kristie, Oona and Liam at Galveston Island, Texas - The yellow warning flag "indicates caution should be used when entering any body of water. This flag is flown for normal conditions to remind swimmers to stay alert."
It’s a good policy to check out the beach flag warning system online before you head for the beach. But, if the beach you are visiting is protected by a lifeguard patrol, you should be able to find the color key to their beach flag system displayed at or near the lifeguard tower(s) and possibly near the beach’s access points.
We found this past weekend that Galveston beaches display their colors prominently along the famous Seawall. The Galveston Island Beach Patrol also flies their own banner on each tower, indicating that a lifeguard is on duty.
Galveston Island, Texas - Lifeguard near lifeguard tower displaying the beach patrol banner and yellow beach warning flag. The tower also displays the color key for the beach warning flag system.
Here’s the rundown for Galveston Island’s colored beach warning flags and their meanings straight from the folks at TexasBeachSafety.org:
Green: Conditions are calm. Swim with care.
Yellow: Indicates caution should be used when entering any body of water. This flag is flown for normal conditions to remind swimmers to stay alert.
Red: Flown when conditions are determined to be out of the ordinary, such as presence of strong wind, strong current or large surf. Adult swimmers should stay in water no more than waist deep and non-swimmers and children should be kept along the surf line.
Blue: Indicates a potential problem with jellyfish, Portuguese man-o-war, stingrays or other marine life that could be a hazard for swimmers. Blue flags can be used in combination with other flags.
Orange: Environmental warning for air and/or water quality. See notice board for details.
A gorgeous March day at Seawall Beach, Galveston Island, Texas
There we have it! The beach flag warning system for Galveston Island, Texas. It’s not confusing after all, if you take it one beach at a time. ~Thank heaven for prominently posted signs and the internet!
Be safe and have a wonderful day at the beach!