Beach Flags Explained
Going for a walk on the beach and taking a dip in the Gulf of Mexico is at the top of every vacationer’s bucket list! When you walk on to the beach at the start of your vacation, you may look out at the flat water and think that it’s completely safe to get in. Before you decide to take that first dip you need to look at the beach warning flags. Each flag has a specific meaning for the conditions of the beautiful blue green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. You never want toassume that it’s safe. You want to KNOW that it’s safe.
Here are the different colored Beach Warning Flags and what they mean.
Yellow – Medium Hazard
The yellow flag is the most familiar on Panama City Beach but that doesn’t mean you can expect the same surf every time that it’s yellow. A yellow flag means that there are moderate surf and/or currents, exercise caution. Currents can be very dangerous because you cannot always see them.
Green – Low Hazard
If you look up and see a green flag flying high above the bright white sand that means that it’s calm conditions, but you should always exercise caution.
Red – High Hazard
A red flag means that there is high surf and/or strong currents. Even if you are a strong swimmer, this surf could be challenging for you. Exercise extreme caution.
Red Over Red – Water closed
If you see two red flags flying this means that the water is closed to the public. Often during this hazardous surf police vehicles will patrol the beach to ensure that no one is getting in the water.
Purple – Dangerous Marine Life
A purple flag means that there is dangerous marine life in the water. This doesn’t mean that you will see shark-infested waters when you walk onto the beach, you may not even see anything at all. Most likely, this means there is jellyfish or stingrays in the water. A purple flag will be accompanied by another flag that will indicate the current surf conditions.
*Rip Currents can also be very dangerous, and you may not be able to recognize them or even see them at all. Rip currents can be found when Yellow Flag, Red Flag, and Red over Red flag are flying. Rip currents account for 80% of lifeguard rescues. Read more about rip currents here.
We encourage you to stay aware and check the flags several times while you’re at the beach because conditions may change as the day goes on. If you see someone struggling in dangerous surf you should never get in to help them, if you see someone in trouble immediately get help from a lifeguard and or call 911.
There are three areas of Panama City Beach that have lifeguards present. You can see these locations here.
Have questions about the area? Just ask!
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