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Water Sports Safety and Warning Signals (Hong Kong)

Last modified: 2020-07-11 by ian macdonald
Keywords: beach flag | hong kong | shark |
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From: http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/swimhandbook/en/pbb3.html

Flags used at 32 Hong Kong public bathing beaches (page dated 11 June, 2004):

This beach is attended by lifeguards: horizontally divided, red above yellow.

[beach attended by lifeguards] image by Ivan Sache, 26 February 2007

There is report of shark in the vicinity: broad white horizontal stripe above narrower white one, a black shark's fin visible above the "water-line".

[Hong Kong Shark in vicinity flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 May 2007

Swimming at this beach is unsafe. Please do not enter the water: red.

[Unsafe conditions] image by Ivan Sache, 26 February 2007

Jan Mertens, 21 May 2005


The red and yellow flag is used in many countries (New Zealand for one, and I'm pretty sure Australia is another). In New Zealand, the usual situation is that when lifeguards are in attendance the beachside building they use as their office/headquarters flies the flag of that particular club (usually a logo, and often sponsored). Two red and yellow flags will be placed on temporary poles hammered into the sand of the beach at either end of the patrolled area, and the public are advised to "Swim between the flags".
James Dignan, 21 May 2005


Quoting the Swimmer's Handbook (last revised, 4 July 2006):

Flag poles and display boards are erected at 32 public bathing beaches for conveying safety messages to swimmers. In case of emergency, messages will be broadcast through the public address system or loud hailers. Notices and signals will be put up.

Flags and their meanings:

  • [Horizontally divided red-yellow]: The beach is attended by lifeguards
  • [Horizontally divided white-blue, 1:2, with a black shark fin emerging]: There is report of shark in the vicinity
  • [Plain red]: Swimming at this beach is unsafe. Please do not enter the water.

Ivan Sache, 26 February 2007