What to Do on a Red Flag Day

Father and son not going in for a swim on a red flag day.
Father and son not going in for a swim on a red flag day.

Here’s something to keep in mind about being safe on Outer Banks beaches. Every once in a while, red flag—“No Swimming”—flags go up. Those warning flags are flying for a reason so do not jump into the surf just to see what it’s like.

However, no swimming doesn’t mean no beach time.

The surf has calmed down quite a bit from yesterday, although it’s still pretty ragged looking with 4-5’ waves and lots of cross currents. Not a good day for surfing (tomorrow should be better) and definitely not a day to jump in the surf and go for a swim.

Yesterday was a classic red flag day. Strong wind from the northeast, seas running 6-7’ with cross currents, riptides and no clear pattern to how the waves were breaking.

Although there was no swimming, it was not a bad beach day—and that’s important to note. For families with little children, sandcastles can still be created; the high tide mark after a vigorous surf is filled with unique shells and occasional sea glass; and, of course, there’s still just kicking back and relaxing.

The clouds burned off by 9:00 a.m. yesterday, and that northeast wind kept temperature moderate. In short, not a bad day to be on the beach.

Just not a good day to go in the water.


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