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Beach Awareness Week: Flag Warning System

What the brightly-colored flags mean when you head to the beach.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — You've probably seen the brightly-colored flags blowing in the wind when you head out to the lakeshore. The red, yellow and green colors are meant to communicate the water conditions at a glance.  

Here is how they work:

Red flags are like stop signs. Conditions are ripe for danger. Stay on the beach and do not enter the water. 

Yellow flags mean to be cautious. Watch for dangerous currents and be aware of changing weather patterns. 

Green flags mean GO FOR IT! Just know that conditions can rapidly change and you should always be checking in. 

Remember, all state park swim beaches should have floatation devices. But in a pinch, anything that floats will help save lives. So having something that has the ability to float with you is always a great idea. 

You should NEVER swim alone and should ALWAYS stay within arms reach of children. 

Keep in mind, the current high-water conditions can cause stronger than normal currents. You can always check swim conditions at the beach before you leave the house. 

The 13 On Your Side weather team shares these conditions starting memorial day weekend during their weather forecasts. You can also visit weather.gov/greatlakes/beachhazards or text BEACH at 616.559.1310 for the latest swim conditions. 

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