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Beachgoers encouraged to pay attention to beach flags for rip current conditions

Beachgoers encouraged to pay attention to beach flags to understand condition of the water
Posted at 5:32 PM, Mar 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-11 00:37:18-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — With the spring break season here, some Coastal Bend lifeguards said it's crucial for beachgoers to follow the beach flag warning system.

“Pay attention to the flag system," Austin Boggess, Lead Lifeguard at Whitecap Beach said. "Knowing what color flag that we are flying that day will give you an idea of how much caution you should give before you get in the water.”

Signs are found at every entrance of the beaches with information about each flag and its meaning.

Boggess said rip currents pose the biggest threat to local beachgoers.

These fast-moving currents are created by deep channels in surrounding sandbars. The best way for someone to escape a rip current is to swim parallel to shore until they've broken free.

“A current that is pushing you out — that’s what a rip current basically is," Boggess said. "The idea of getting out of the rip current would be to swim parallel to shore and as soon as you are out, or your feel like you’re out of that rip current, swim directly to shore.”

Common flag colors used in beach flag warning systems include a green flag for low hazard conditions, a yellow flag for medium hazard conditions and one red flag for high hazardous conditions.

"Red, we will typically fly on a bigger wave day so we will have either a high wind or a small. Where it's above 3-to-5 feet,” Boggess said. “Our yellow flag is usually going to be our 1-to-2 feet range as far as the swell size goes and maybe a light wind as well."

Officials said beachgoers should always be cautious anytime they enter the water, whether it is a green flag or a yellow one.

“A green flag would be almost calm seas where you're going to be safe but still caution — but be safe getting in the water by using the buddy system," he said.

Boggess also recommended that people don’t drink and swim because it’s extremely dangerous.

Even if you take precautions in the water, there is always a chance that beachgoers can get caught in a rip current.

Boggess said when you find yourself in a rip current, you should first, remain calm, because if you panic, it won’t make the situation better.

Beach flags are determined each day based on a variety of factors, including surf forecasts, weather patterns and lifeguards physically testing the strength of currents.

They city of Corpus Christi is looking to hire lifeguards. Applications can be submitted through the city's website.

For more information about the beach flag warning systems, click here.

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