Understanding beach warning flags - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Understanding beach warning flags

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As two teenagers recover from shark attacks in North Carolina, lifeguards right down the coast here in South Carolina are reminding people to pay attention to the warning flags they put up to keep swimmers safe.

"They need to know what's going on in the water and that's why we're here doing our job," said Martina Zirosova, recruiting and training manager for Lack's Beach Service. "We're here to inform people and make sure that everyone is safe."

Lack's Beach Service managers figure out water conditions in the morning and then decide which flag will fly on the beach that day, Zirosova said.

A yellow flag means lifeguards are on duty and people should swim with caution. That is the flag that is up when ocean conditions are typical.

A blue flag means dangerous marine life, such as jellyfish, sharks, fish or stingrays, have been spotted in the area.

If a lifeguard sees an animal in the water or notices a rip current, that lifeguard can call a supervisor and change the flag to a red "No Swimming" flag, requiring swimmers to get out of the water.

That flag will stay up for about 10 minutes then the lifeguard can reevaluate the situation and take it down. Animals usually swim away within that amount of time.

No matter which flag is flying, Lack's Beach Service recommends people don't swim close to piers because sharks are more  common in those areas.

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly