Decoding oceanfront warning flags and their meaning

10 On Your Side
red flags virginia beach_549185

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Colorful flags often grace the shoreline of our beautiful beaches, and they are there to help keep you safe. 

Here is a crash course on Hampton Roads lifeguard warning signals so that you can be in the know on your next beach day.

The Yellow Flag
Meaning: Medium Hazard
Currents are present, enough so that weak swimmers are discouraged from entering the water.The Red Flag
Meaning: High Hazard
Conditions such as strong surf and/or currents are present. All swimmers are discouraged from entering the water. 
The Red Over Red Flag
Meaning: Water is closed to public use.
No swimmers should be in the water, typically enforced by lifeguards. This could also be an indication of a shark sighting.

The Purple Flag
Meaning: Marine pests present
Jellyfish, stingrays, sea snakes or other marine life are active in nearby water. Purple flag is not an indication of sharks.
The Red Over Yellow Flag
Meaning: Recommended swimming area with lifeguard supervision
Indicates lifeguard presence. They are placed in a designated zone along the shore that is closely supervised.  
The Quartered Flag
Meaning: Watercraft area 
These flags may be used in pairs, and tell beach goer’s that it’s most prominent use is for surfboards or other non-powered water craft. 
The Black Ball Flag
Meaning: Watercraft use prohibited
Surfboards and other non-powered watercraft are prohibited.
The Orange Windsock Flag
Meaning: Offshore winds present, inflatables should not be used
This cone-shaped device is used to indicate the direction of offshore winds and to show that it is unsafe for inflatable objects to be used in the water.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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