You see those colored flags flying at the beach, but do you know why they are there? Educate yourself about the beach warning flag system to safely enjoy our beaches.
In general, think of the flags like traffic lights. Red means stop. Green means go. Yellow means proceed with caution. But even if the green flag is flapping in the breeze, always be careful and swim where there is a lifeguard on duty.
Just because there is no flag, that does not assure safe conditions. Always err on the side of caution when playing at the beach. If a family member is not a strong swimmer, for example, it might be a good idea for them to stay in ankle-deep water even on a green flag day.
Keep in mind that a double-red flag makes it illegal for anyone of any swimming ability to enter the water in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
A quick guide:
- Double-red flag: Do NOT go in the water. It is closed to the public.
- Red flag: High Hazard – High surf and/or strong currents. Stay out of the water.
- Yellow flag: Medium Hazard – Moderate surf and/or currents. Use caution if you enter.
- Green flag: Low Hazard – Calm conditions, but exercise caution and good judgment.
- Purple flag: Dangerous Marine Life – Most likely jellyfish, but could be sharks. Don’t go in the water.
Now, go. Enjoy the beach. Safely.