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Lifeguard Flags What Do They Mean…

Beach safety and RNLI Advice. Due to onshore strong winds this weekend, here is some advice on RNLI flags and what they mean.

Good afternoon,

If thinking of heading to the beach this weekend, please be careful due to the gusty and at times strong easterly or northeasterly winds.

The gusty winds could cause issues for those thinking of doing water-related activities.

We have already seen incidents of kayaker uses being tipped over and dragged out to sea and having to be rescued.

Please use beaches that have coastguards and seek advice if thinking of entering the water.

Beach safety

The beach is a wonderful place to be. If you’re heading to the coast, take a look at our advice and tips to help you have fun and stay safe

Lifeguard patrols can’t be on every beach. But with you by their side, your family can stay safe.

If you can’t make it to a lifeguarded beach, then read our safety advice below. Some simple steps can help you have a safe and enjoyable trip to the seaside.

Bookmark this page now so you’ll always have quick access to the best tips and advice on avoiding beach dangers.

How can I stay safe on the beach?

  • Protect and keep an eye on your family
  • Stay together and don’t use inflatables
  • In an emergency dial 999 for the Coastguard

Lifeguarded beaches

Please be aware that RNLI lifeguard services are currently limited on beaches in the SW.

Beach flags and signs


When you arrive at the beach the first thing you might see is a sign giving you all the information about the beach you’re visiting.

The signs generally use two different types of warning symbols.

Red and white prohibition sign

Do not enter the water at any time. Swimming and other water-related activities are not permitted.

No lifeguards sign

There is currently no lifeguard service at this beach. You should exercise caution and follow all safety advice to protect you and your family.


If the beach you’re at is not lifeguarded, please take extra care if you are going into the water. If lifeguards are on patrol, then you’ll need to know your flags:

Red and yellow beach flag

Red and yellow flag

Lifeguarded area. Safest area to swim, bodyboard and use inflatables.

Black and white chequered beach flag

For surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and other non-powered craft. Launch and recovery area for kitesurfers and windsurfers. Never swim or bodyboard here.

Red beach flag

Danger! Never go in the water under any circumstances when the red flag is flying.

Orange windsock

Indicates offshore or strong wind conditions. Never use inflatables when the windsock is flying.

Please always adhere to the flags and if in doubt seek advice from the lifeguard on duty.

Please also remember Covid regulations currently in force. You must keep to social distancing and that you should only travel with up to 6 people from the same household.

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