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Beach Warning Flags Explained

When you walk onto the beach at the start of your vacation, you may look out at the flat water and think it’s completely safe. That could be the case, but you never want to assume it’s safe. You want to KNOW that it’s safe. We want to show you the different Beach Warning Flags and their meaning.  

Green – Low Hazard  

If you look up and see a green flag flying high above the bright white sand, it’s calm conditions, but you should always exercise caution.  

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 it’s yellow. A yellow flag indicates moderate surf and currents; exercise caution. Currents can be hazardous because you cannot always see them. 

Red – High Hazard 

A red flag means high surf and strong currents. Even if you are a strong swimmer, this surf could be challenging for you—exercise extreme caution.  

Red Over Red – Water closed. 

The water is closed to the public if you see two red flags flying. Often during this hazardous surf, police vehicles patrol the beach to ensure no one is getting in the water.  

Purple – Dangerous Marine Life 

A purple flag means that there is dangerous marine life in the water. It doesn’t mean you will see shark-infested waters when you walk onto the beach; you may not even see anything. Most likely, this means there are jellyfish or stingrays in the water. A purple flag will fly in conjunction with another flag that will indicate the current surf conditions.  

Rip Currents can also be hazardous, and you may not be able to recognize them or even see them at all. Rip currents account for 80% of lifeguard rescues.  

We encourage you to stay aware and check the flags several times while at the beach because conditions may change as the day progresses. If you see someone struggling in dangerous surf, you should never get in to help them; if you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard or call 911.  

If you'd like text alerts when the flags change you can sign up by texting "PCBFLAGS" to 888777.

Tags: Beach Safety

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