North Myrtle Beach Lifeguard Flags Explained & Beach Safety Tips

Welcome to sunny North Myrtle Beach! Known for its beautiful location along the pristine Grand Strand and for offering some of the most family-friendly attractions and restaurants along the East Coast, it’s not hard to see why North Myrtle is an annual tradition for many.

Barefoot Landing, award-winning golf courses, and world-class restaurants are just a few of the popular things to do in the area. But, the beach most definitely steals the show.

Situated along the northern end of the Grand Strand, North Myrtle Beach enjoys ~15 miles of coastline. Located outside of the hustle and bustle of the main Myrtle Beach stretch, North Myrtle offers a slower pace. Visitors flock to our sandy shores each year to enjoy our wide-open beaches, which are ideal for swimming, surfing, and basking in the sun.

Of course, the number one priority when visiting any beach is safety! The North Myrtle Beach public beaches adhere to the standard beach warning flag system, and it’s a good idea to be familiar with what these flags mean prior to your trip. These flags will be visible along the beach and can give you a heads up on current beach water conditions.

Here’s a quick guide to North Myrtle Beach warning flags:

Double Red Flag – Water Closed to the Public

Water is closed to the public. Swimming is not permitted.

Red Flag – High Hazard

Rough conditions, like strong surf and/or surf, are present. Swimming is strongly discouraged for all beach visitors. Those entering the water should exercise extreme care.

Yellow Flag – Medium Hazard

Moderate surf and/or currents are present. Weak swimmers should avoid entering the water. Advanced swimmers should exercise caution.

Green Flag – Low Hazard

No or very light surf and/or currents are present. Swimming is considered safe for visitors of all levels.

Purple Flag – Dangerous Marine Life

Dangerous marine life, like jellyfish, stingrays, or other marine life are present in the water and exposure can cause minor injury. Swimmers are advised to exercise caution. Please also note that this flag does not indicate the presence of sharks or extremely dangerous marine life.

In addition to posted signs, marine flags, and a full-time lifeguard staff, North Myrtle Beach also offers a beach patrol division for added protection. The beach patrol is responsible for law enforcement along the beach and for the overall safety of all beach visitors. Each officer employed is fully certified in CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators. The patrol division is active throughout the year with officers present in trucks, various off-road vehicles, and even bikes. Feel free to approach an officer if you ever have a question about beach safety or if you need assistance.

Beach Safety Tips

Here are a few other tips to keep you safe during your trip to the beach:

  1. Swim near a lifeguard – North Myrtle Beach does hire a full staff to man the 54 lifeguard towers located along the 10+ miles of beachfront.
  2. Use sunscreen – North Myrtle Beach enjoys a sunny beach season that lasts from late spring through the fall. The use and reapplication of sunscreen with at least 30 SPF is recommended for beach guests of all ages. Hats and beach umbrellas are also recommended to limit direct sun exposure.
  3. Drink water – A long day at the beach can be exhausting! Be sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  4. Review rip current procedures – Though they are generally rare along the North Myrtle Beach coast, rip currents are real and they do happen. Be sure that everyone in your group knows how to swim to safety through a rip current to mitigate the risk.
  5. Obey posted signs and flags – Be sure to review all area signs and flags to be aware of current beach conditions and adjust your plans accordingly.

Beach Etiquette Tips

  1. Do not litter. Bring a trash bag with you for clean up and dispose of items in designated trash areas that are provided near beach entrances.
  2. Do not bring glass on the beach. Glass can break and easily blends in with the sand.
  3. Do not set up umbrellas, tents, or chairs on the dunes or near beach fences. And, as a reminder, large tents are not permitted on the beach.
  4. Do not leave children unattended.
  5. Do not walk your dog off the leash, and obey general dog laws. No dogs are allowed on the beach between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. from May 15th – September 15th.