We’ve had a little more rain on the gulf coast than we’d like so when the clouds parted today, we gathered the kids, their friends, lots of sunscreen and headed to the beach. There was a light breeze and it was a bit overcast, but we enjoyed the beach for the entire day anyway. Listening to the water break against the beach has got to be at the top of my top ten most relaxing things to do. Who needs a massage? Give me a beach chair, an umbrella and the waves crashing and I’ll fall asleep like a baby in the backseat of a car.
Too often while we’re relaxing at the beach, we notice that our summer guests – aka “tourists” do not always seem to notice or understand our beach flag warning system. (Or they are ignoring it which is even worse).
Double red flags mean if you go in the water – you will be arrested, the water is closed to the public because the currents are life threatening.
Today was a red flag day – meaning… unless you’re an incredible swimmer and you’ve been trained in surviving a rip current… then don’t go in past your ankles (if at all). We saw toddlers being led into the waves today by their parents – it was terrifying. Our children have taken special classes provided by the fire department to teach them how to swim in the gulf during red and double red flag conditions with specific training on how to get out of a rip current. I still only let them go in up to their knees and I got up twice to reign them back in towards the shore.
A yellow flag can be very misleading. It’s a warning that there are rip currents present although they are not yet strong enough to warrant a red flag. Most beach days in our area are yellow flags and you still have to keep a close eye on the currents – they can still pull you under and out into the Gulf in the blink of an eye.
Green flag is self explanatory – it means there are no rip currents present and you can swim as much as you’d like.
Purple flags will fly in tandem with the color condition flags and they are only put out when there are marine pests present. This usually means that there are jelly fish or man of war in the water so you have to be very observant or you can get quite a painful surprise from one of these creatures.