How do you know if it’s going to be a safe day for swimming at the beach? Actually, it’s pretty simple to find out.
Call 251-968-TIDE (8433) or 251-981-SURF (7873) to check surf conditions in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. The beach warning flag system is color-coded. Just think of the flags as traffic signals.
Of course, red means stop. If a red flag is flying, that indicates high surf with strong currents. It’s dangerous even for experienced swimmers. High surf can cause strong currents that can result in rip tides or rip currents. Rip currents indicate a fast-moving stream of water flowing from the shore out past the breakers. Don’t go in.
A double-red flag means the water is closed to the public because of rough surf and strong currents. Again, don’t go in.
If you are ever caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore instead of trying to fight the current by swimming straight back in. As you swim parallel to the shore, you’ll break out of the rip current and can head back in.
A yellow flag signals a medium hazard with moderate surf. Use caution.
Green means a low hazard with calm conditions. It’s safe to go in, but it’s still a good idea to swim near a lifeguard station and with other people.
And that purple flag? It indicates dangerous marine life in the water.
Know the color code and be safe when you visit the beaches in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.