Learn to Surf Basics Beach Flags 101

What do the different types of beach flags mean?

When you are visiting the beach, there is some basic knowledge that you should have before you hit the water to make sure you are safe and are not going to put anyone around you in danger.

On most beaches, there will be lifeguards patrolling the beach and water. It is their job to assess the conditions and decide how safe the ocean is every day. They then put up various flags which indicate how safe the conditions are and also where it is safe for swimmers. We’re going to take a look at these flags below and what they signal. It is important to note that the flags are not uniform throughout the world and that in some countries different flags mean different things. That’s why it’s always important to speak to the lifeguards first if you’re unsure about the conditions and where to surf. Most of them will happily help and advise you.

Green flag 

The green flag means that it’s low hazard conditions. It is safe to swim and normal care and caution should be taken.

Yellow flag

The yellow flag means there are moderately hazardous conditions of currents and surf. Extra care and caution should be taken.

Red over yellow flag

The red then yellow flag marks out the swimming area that the lifeguards have deemed as safe to swim in. Always swim between the red and yellow flags.

Red flag

The red flag means very dangerous conditions such as rough surf and strong currents. Do NOT enter the water.

Black and white flag

The black and white flags mark out their surfing and water craft area. Do NOT swim in between the flags.

International distress signal

If you’re in trouble in the motor and need help, simply remain calm and raise one arm into the air to signal the lifeguards you need help.