The Pensacola Beach flag system was put in place to warn swimmers of any current dangers existing in the water. Like all public beaches across the state, Pensacola’s beaches are required by law to update the flags based on changing conditions. From strong tides to marine critters, the flags tell a story of unseen conditions in the Gulf. Keep reading to discover what the flags mean!
You don’t want to hit the beach without checking our Pensacola Beach Beaches Online Resource!
What Each Pensacola Beach Flag Means
There are 4 different colored beach flags (5 total types), all with a different meaning. Flags can be used individually, or in conjunction to represent a set of conditions. I know what you’re thinking, “I’m on vacation, nothing is stopping me from getting in the water!” Although the emerald-green waters may be screaming “jump in”, it is advised to take the flags very seriously. Even when a threat isn’t visible, it may still exist. See below for descriptions on each beach flag (images courtesy of http://www.dep.state.fl.us).
Beach Warning Flag Types
Low Hazard – The green low hazard flag is what every beach goer hopes to see on their approach to the sand. This flag means the conditions are calm, and it is safe to swim while still exercising the usual caution when around water!
Medium Hazard – The yellow medium hazard flag cautions swimmers of moderate surf and/or currents. This flag signals safe swimming conditions, but potential danger, especially for children and inexperienced swimmers.
High Hazard – When the red flag flies for high hazard, it is recommended to either keep to the shallow waters, or stay out completely. High surf and/or strong currents can sweep away even experienced swimmers.
Water Closed to Public – When a double red flag is displayed, the water is closed to the public. During these conditions, even the shallow waters can pose a serious risk to swimmers.
Dangerous Marine Life – The purple flag means there is a presence of a dangerous marine animal. This flag is almost exclusively utilized to warn beach goers of an influx in jellyfish populations near shore! Even if the water looks clear, remember that the translucent bodies of jellyfish are almost impossible to detect!
Now that you’re a Pensacola beach flag pro, check out some of the top Pensacola Beach things to do including watersports and beach gear rentals!
Rip Currents AKA “Riptide”
It’s important to mention the potential for rip currents, also known as “riptides”. Haven’t heard of riptides before? Riptides occur in both salt and freshwater, and are one of the leading causes of drowning on the Gulf Coast. Usually compared to a fast-moving treadmill, a riptide can be both dangerous and scary if the swimmer is unprepared.