We are only a week away from lifeguard tryouts and we’re hoping for a big turnout on Saturday the 7th of march. Info is on our website. We’re also right on beach season, so were pushing out public safety information to remind people to be safe. One area that’s important is our Flag Warning System.
The Flag Warning System is used to advise beach patrons of the current water conditions and any applicable environmental warnings. The flag colors described below used to help beachgoers understand the current conditions in the always dynamic environment of open water.
On Galveston Island, informational signs and warning flags are posted each day year-round along Seawall Blvd. at flag warning stations. Also, each guarded Lifeguard tower flies the appropriate flags for the day. They also are displayed at beach park entrances.
We post flag color, warnings, and other important safety info on our Homepage and on multiple social media platforms every day. You can also sign up on our website to receive the notifications via email and/or text message daily.
Here are the different flags we use and some inside background info on them:
Green: Conditions are calm. Swim with care. Remember this doesn’t mean you’re safe. The ocean isn’t a pool or pond so you should always be extra careful even on flat days.
Yellow: Indicates that caution should be used when entering the water. This flag is flown for normal ocean conditions to remind swimmers to stay alert. Its important to stay close to shore on yellow days.
Red: Flown when conditions are rough, such as presence of strong wind, strong current or large surf. Adult swimmers should stay in water no more than waist deep and non-swimmers and children should be kept along the surf line. When there is a red flag flying you should assume the presence of very strong rip currents near any type of structure like groins or jetties.
Purple: Indicates a potential problem with jellyfish, Portuguese man-o-war, stingrays or other marine life that could be a hazard for swimmers. Purple flags will be used in combination with other flags. Every guard trains before every shift so we use ourselves as the Guinea Pigs. If we get several stings while swimming the flags go up. Sometimes a wave of critters comes up midday so we put the purple flags up when we reach a minimum threshold of the ratio of stings to swimmers.
Orange: Indicates there is an environmental warning for air and/or water quality. Ask the Lifeguard for more details. Orange pennant flags will be used in combination with other flags. We have a partnership with UTMB for air quality warnings and one with the Health Districts Texas Beach Watch Program for water quality warnings. Water quality warnings can be specific to certain areas so these flags, when flown, may be just in some areas. We don’t determine when either of these warnings are issued. But we help spread the word by our flag system, or website, or via social media.