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Florida’s Uniform Beach Warning Flags

Posted by Jody on October 10, 2011

Lifeguard Tower and Flags, Miami Beach, Florida (Photo by Jorge Royan/Wikimedia Commons)

Lot’s of people will be heading to the sunny beaches of Florida this season! According to the State of Florida, there are 1200 miles of sand beaches to enjoy in the “Sunshine State”. With all of Florida’s beautiful public beaches available for residents and visitors to enjoy year-round, it’s no wonder that the Florida State Legislature decided in 2005 to require the standardization of beach warning flags for all Florida beaches. What a great idea!  The standardized system eliminates any confusion a beachgoer might have with regards to the flags from beach to beach within the State of Florida.

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection: “Many residents and visitors travel to different parts of the state to enjoy Florida’s wonderful public beaches, and many beach communities post warning flags. Differences in flag colors, sizes and symbols from place-to-place can confuse beach goers, thereby decreasing the effectiveness of efforts to improve public safety. The Florida Legislature decided that a uniform flag system would provide the best measure of safety and, in 2005, amended Section 380.276, F.S., to require that all public beaches displaying warning flags use only the flags developed for the state’s warning program.”

Beach Warning Flags (NOAA image)

The uniform beach warning flags and signs on Florida’s beaches use the colors that have been adopted by the International Lifesaving Federation:

Green: Low hazard, calm conditions, exercise caution.
Yellow: Medium hazard, moderate surf and/or currents.
Red: High hazard, high surf and/or strong currents. (could indicate rip currents)
Red over Red (two red flags): Water closed to the public. The bottom red flag in the “red-over-red” flag set shows a no swimming logo in white.
Purple: Dangerous marine life. (includes jellyfish, sea lice, man-of-war) The purple flag may be flown along with another flag.

Florida’s uniform beach warning flags assure swimmers that there won’t be any misunderstanding when they visit the beaches anywhere in the Sunshine State. Whether you are enjoying a day out on the sunny Atlantic coast, on the beautiful Florida Keys, or on the sugar-white Gulf of Mexico beaches, you can be sure of one thing!  Each color of warning flag on the beaches of Florida will have a consistent meaning.

A few extra safety tips: It’s best to remember that the absence of Florida’s beach warning flags does not assure swimmers that the water is safe.  Of course, at any beach, one should never swim alone.  It’s always wise to swim only at lifeguarded beaches. Be sure to ask a lifeguard about surf conditions before heading into the water. *Don’t be shy! They’re more than happy to answer your questions, it’s their job!*

Have a great day at the beach!

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