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Galveston Beaches

Galveston Beach Flag Warning System

Galveston Beach Flag Warning

Always remember to play it safe when visiting any beach! The beach flag warning system advises beachgoers of water conditions and environmental warnings. 

The flag colors are used to help understand the conditions in the surf. There are signs and warning flags posted each day all year along the Seawall. 

Green: Conditions are calm. Swim with care.



Yellow: Indicates caution should be used when entering any body of water. This flag is flown for normal conditions to remind swimmers to stay alert.

Red: Flown when conditions are determined to be out of the ordinary, such as the 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.

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.


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.

If there is a lifeguard is on duty, their tower will have the appropriate flags for the day.  Beach park entrances will also have warning flags raised each day.  

Galveston Island’s beach warning flag program uses flags in five colors with signs along the beach to explain the meaning of each color. 

The beach flags provide general warnings about overall surf conditions. They do not specifically advise the public of the presence of rip currents. 

However, there are specific signs on most Galveston beaches to increase awareness of natural conditions that pose a high risk at the beach, such as rip currents. 

Rip currents cause nearly 80% of beach rescues. They can be dangerous and even deadly if you don’t know what to do.

Before spending time on the beach everyone should learn how to stay safe in the surf, sand, and sun. 

It’s not just the big waves and the rip currents, there are also jellyfish, and man-o-war out there.

lifeguard stand flag warnings
Look for flags at manned lifeguard stands
Remember to always swim near lifeguards when possible.  They are not always on every beach and that is why it is really important to know about and look for warning signs and flags.

There are a few national and regional variations, but the majority of signs are universal. They tell us valuable information about the beach and the surf.

The United States Lifesaving Association has compiled the most useful safety tips for beachgoers and surfers too.

They are:

  1. Learn to swim
  2. Swim near a lifeguard
  3. Swim with a buddy
  4. Check with the lifeguards
  5. Use sunscreen and drink water
  6. Obey posted signs and flags
  7. Keep the beach and water clean
  8. Learn about rip current safety
  9. Enter water feet first
  10. Wear a life jacket
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