Understanding the warning flags at the beach: What do the different colors mean?
You have most certainly seen a flag or two at the beach on your way out to catch some good waves. Sometimes the flag is yellow, red, purple or even a combination of different colours. These flags are hoisted to keep you safe in the water, but do you know what they actually mean? Here’s a guide with all the flags you should remember for your future trips to the beach!
While learning to surf it's important to know what's going on around you, whether it's the other surfers in the water or the conditions of the waves. But have you ever really paid attention to the different warning flags at the beach and what they mean? When is it safe to go out for a surf session or a refreshing swim in the ocean? When should you be cautious and when is it actually really dangerous to surf?
Beach flags are up for your safety in the water and it’s important for us surfers to know what the different colours mean. Understanding why a purple or yellow flag is hoisted could be the difference between a nice surf session and a very dangerous experience with scary consequences.
The most common warning flags at the beach – The colours and what they mean
Thankfully, there aren't a massive number of flags to memorize and it’s not really rocket science. Most of the flags are easy to guess what they mean: green means safe, yellow means moderate and red means rougher conditions. So far so good. But that about purple? Black and white? Or orange cone-shaped? The guidelines for the flags listed below are developed by the international standard from the International Life Saving Federation (ILS). This is a universal standard, but keep in mind that flags may look different in some countries and regions.