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Beach Safety Flags

Lifeguard station on a beach in the Algarve

Every year hundreds of thousands of people enjoy Portugal's spectacular beaches. An awareness of beach safety flags and techniques can ensure that you all have a fantastic time

During the summer season many beaches are patrolled by lifeguards and will be displaying the safety flags. However from 1st October the lifeguards and the flags may be gone so it is important to take extra care at that time of the year.

Beach flags

Red flag

A red flag means stay out of the water completely

yellow flag

A yellow flag means no swimming but you can paddle

green flag

A green flag means you can swim

chequered flag

A blue and white chequered flag means that the beach is temporarily without a lifeguard

EU blue flag
This flag is not a beach safety flag. It is the Blue Flag awarded by the EU to clean beaches that have good envionmental and safety standards.

What to do in an Emergency

If you see someone in trouble alert the lifeguard or on non-guarded beaches telephone 112

Only properly trained lifeguards should attempt rescues as a panicking person could drag an inexperienced rescuer down with them- sadly this summer in Europe there have been a number of cases where whole groups of people or families have drowned trying to save one person.

If you find yourself in difficulty in the sea and there is a lifeguard on the beach put one arm straight up in the air to attract their attention.

Do not try and swim against the current , if the current is pulling you out to sea go with it until you can swim sideways or get behind the waves.


Don't go into the sea until three hours after eating

Try to go into the water with a friend so that one of you can call for help if the other gets into difficulty.

If you've been sun bathing go into the water slowly as your body needs time to adjust to the change in temperature- jumping straight in can be dangerous.

Follow these rules, look out for one another and use your common sense and I'm sure you'll have a happy, relaxing and safe beach holiday.

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beach safety photo copyright: Woodsy, surfing Joao Barbosa

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