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Beach Safety
Click each image below to learn more about Outer Banks beach safety!

Click here to access the Love the Beach, Respect the Ocean Media Kit.

Beach Warning Flags

The images below show what typical flags look like. Click on an image to see when each flag will fly and actions you should take to ensure your safety at beaches along the Outer Banks. 

Not every day is the perfect beach day.  While weather forecasts for rain, wind and temperatures are pretty easy to understand, we can’t say the same for the ocean.


The National Weather Service issues forecast and hazard statements for all ocean beaches on the Outer Banks. When they do, a “rip current risk level” is set at LOW, MODERATE or HIGH.  While the title seems to focus on life threatening rip currents, other “hidden hazards” like longshore current and shorebreak are also included.


With ocean rescue staff always having a keen eye on the actual conditions, the forecast “risk level” at times needs to be adjusted, leading local lifeguards to work with the pros at the weather service to get it right.


To help keep you safe, expected ocean hazards and risks you may face at ocean beaches are then shared using Beach Warnings Flags.  The flags are flown at lifeguarded beaches and on roving ocean rescue patrol vehicles.


No matter what flag is flying, whenever you are on the beach know your location, when possible swim near a lifeguard and always heed the advice/directions provided by local ocean rescue personnel.

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