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Beach and Surf Club Flags (Australia)

Last modified: 2016-03-14 by ian macdonald
Keywords: beach | swimming | surf |
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Patrolled beach flags

Swimming area boundary flag

[Swimming area boundary flag] image by António Martins, 16 May 2007

Red over yellow bicolours are found on all patrolled Australian beaches. Swimmers are advised to swim between the flags, which is the area of the beach being watched by the lifesavers.
Jonathan Dixon, 21 Mar 2005

A Daily Telegraph article entitled Australian dream ends in tragedy gives some idea of the history of these flags. Quoting Sean O'Connell, a Surf Life Saving spokesman,

"Since 1935, the red-and-yellow flags have represented the safest place on Australian beaches to swim, and they are slowly being adopted as best practice around the world."
Jonathan Dixon, 18 September 2007

This flag is one of the set of flags recommended by the International Life Saving Federation.
António Martins, 29 December 2008

Board riding area boundary flag

[Board riding area boundary flag] image by António Martins, 16 May 2007

The Bondi Surf Club site explains that a plain blue flag marks the board riding area boundary.
Jonathan Dixon, 21 Mar 2005

The International Life Saving Federation recommends quartered black/white flags to mark the area designated by surfboards.
António Martins, 29 December 2008

No swimming flag

[No swimming flag] image by António Martins, 16 May 2007

The Bondi Surf Club site explains that a plain red flag indicates no swimming.
Jonathan Dixon, 21 Mar 2005

This flag is one of the set of flags recommended by the International Life Saving Federation.
António Martins, 29 December 2008

Shark alarm flag

[Shark alarm flag] image by António Martins, 16 May 2007

The Bondi Surf Club site explains that a flag quartered red and white indicates a shark alarm.
Jonathan Dixon, 21 Mar 2005

This morning, a Surf Life Saving spokesman was on the Sydney ABC local radio station, speaking about shark alarms. (The main alarm, in New South Wales at least, is an audible siren.) He mentioned this flag, which the presenter had never heard of. The spokesman said that it is rarely used, and is mainly intended as a tool for internal communication between life savers, rather than a sign for the public.
Jonathan Dixon, 29 December 2008

This flag is not prescribed by ILSF, which instead states in its §5.4. about the purple flag that it “is not intended to indicate the presence of sharks. In this latter case the red flag or double red flag may be hoisted.”

I note that the 2—2 red over white flag pattern is the ICS signal flag "uniform" , meaning "U" and “You are running into danger”.
António Martins, 29 December 2009


Flags for signalling

[ Flag used by lifeguards for signalling ] image by António Martins, 2 Jul 2007

Seen at the bottom of this Surf Live Saving NZ page (PDF), a “Signal flag / Used for communicating with other Surf Lifeguards through the SLSNZ signals system. Now largely replaced by rescue tubes”. Shown is a square orange flag with a blue ascending diagonal.

This page from Bondi Surf Club in Australia shows some examples of messages relayed by this flag, including “attract attention” (two photos), “go to left” (one photo) and “investigate submerged object” (two photos). More examples are shown on these Danish pages (in Danish): first “animated” pictures, second a parade of similar photos.
Jan Mertens, 3 March 2007

The flag seems 4:5, rather than square, like the yellow/red safe swimming flags.
António Martins and James Dignan, 2-3 July 2007



 
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