Know and Understand the Water Safety Flag Colors While on the Beach

Panama City Beach, Florida is no doubt the home of the ‘world’s most beautiful beaches’. Yet even the gorgeous waters of the emerald coastline can be hazardous to swim in.

Water and beach safety is crucial to ensuring the successful vacation experience of each and every individual visiting this Florida gem. It is, after all, the city’s main mission to help ensure the safety of the millions of visitors who come to enjoy the 27 miles of gorgeous beaches each year.

One of the easiest ways to ensure your safety in Gulf waters is to pay close attention to the beach flags that fly at every public beach. The beach flag colors alert beachgoers about water conditions and rip currents.

The beach flags fly in 5 different colors, and they mean the following:

  • Double red

Danger! Water closed to swimmers!

  • Single red

High hazard-high surf and/or strong currents; getting into the water is not advised

  • Yellow

Medium hazard-moderate surf and/or strong currents; swimmers should take additional care

  • Green

Low hazard-Calm conditions, water is safe; as always, swimmers should exercise caution in the water

  • Purple

Presence of dangerous marine life such as jellyfish, stingrays or other hazardous creatures; beachgoers should stay out of the water

It’s extremely important for beachgoers to monitor and follow the flag colors. Double red means stay out of the water.

Please also keep in mind that the absence of beach flags does not necessarily mean that the water is safe.

flag_system1Rip currents can be unpredictable and very dangerous. They are strong, fast rivers of water that usually flow away from the beach at a very high speed. Rip currents are usually associated with large waves and strong offshore winds, but in rare cases, they can occur during calm conditions.

Some of the best ways to identify the presence of rip currents, in addition to the beach flag system, are to look for the following:

>> Unusual choppiness

>> Discoloration of water

>> Debris & foam moving seaward

If you do get caught in a Rip Current, do not panic. Swim parallel to the shore until the current weakens, then swim back towards shore.

In addition to these safety measures, beachgoers should stay together, watch each other and generally be cautious and aware of their surroundings. Beach safety is key so stay alert and pay attention to the colors of the beach flags.

Remember, the beach flags are there for your protection, so keep an eye on them!

– With files from

11 thoughts on “Know and Understand the Water Safety Flag Colors While on the Beach”

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