Rip current flags explained: A must-read for beachgoers

Red Rip Tide Flag

Rip current flags are used to warn beachgoers about the potential for rip currents. Rip currents are powerful currents of water that can sweep swimmers away from shore. They are a major cause of beach drownings.

The colors of rip current flags and their meanings:

  • Green flag: Safe conditions. There is no significant surf or current activity.
  • Yellow flag: Medium hazard. Moderate surf and/or currents are present. Weak swimmers are discouraged from entering the water. For others, enhanced care and caution should be exercised.
  • Red flag: High hazard. Rough conditions such as strong surf and/or currents are present. All swimmers are discouraged from entering the water. Those entering the water should take great care.
  • Double red flag: Water closed to public use. The water is closed due to dangerous rip current activity.

Signs and Symbols:

In addition to the color of the flag, there may also be signs or symbols on the flag that provide more information about the surf conditions. For example, a flag with a lightning bolt symbol indicates that there is a risk of lightning strikes.

It is important to obey the rip current flag warnings. If you see a red or double red flag, do not enter the water. Even if you are a strong swimmer, you could be swept away by a rip current.

What to do if caught in a rip current:

If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and do not panic. Swim parallel to the shore until you escape the current. Once you are out of the current, swim back to shore. If you cannot escape the current, float or tread water until help arrives.

Here are some tips for staying safe in rip currents:

  • Swim near a lifeguard.
  • Swim with a buddy.
  • Check with the lifeguards before entering the water.
  • Obey posted signs and flags.
  • Learn about rip current safety.
  • Enter the water feet first.
  • Wear a life jacket if you are a weak swimmer.

By following these tips, you can help to ensure a safe and enjoyable beach experience.

Want to learn more about Rip Currents? Check out our blog Rip Currents: What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

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