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Beach Flags (Brazil)

Last modified: 2010-08-15 by ian macdonald
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Beach Flags

Brazil is country with a very long shore line and many beaches, with warm sunny climate and where beach going is highly popular — for tourists and locals alike. I searched the "interwebs" for some info but found almost nothing substantive.

As usual, at http://www.mar.mil.br/salvamarbrasil, the official site of the Brazilian Navy institution which coordinates beach security, there is no useful information. However, a nice photo at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimsk/108973812 seems to imply that red means unsafe beach condition. At http://fotolog.terra.com.br/luizd:864 we learn that in Rio in the 1950s red meant danger and white meant safety, hoisted on a yardarm below the national flag ("bandeiras hasteadas, abaixo da brasileira, a branca, significando mar livre, e a vermelha de mar perigoso"). At http://www.sobrasa.org/biblioteca/bandeiras/bandeiras.htm the site of Sobrasa (apparently a private lifeguard institution), there is a translation to Portuguese of an ILS document about recommended beach flag meanings and designs (more later). This doesn’t mean that this system is in active use in Brazil.

In http://teses.ufrj.br/IPPUR_M/IvySchipper.pdf a "lost/found child" flag is mentioned, in use as of 1971 (from Jornal do Brasil of 1973.02.18): "bandeiras vermelhas com a cruz branca servem para que crianças esperem por seus pais enquanto estes não a encontram nas praias." The design is not clear: either Swiss or Savoian styles are possible, as also a saltire. The usage is pretty clear, though: rallying point for lost children to wait for their parents (or whatever guardians) at. Not clear whether this is a system in use or just a proposal. In the same http://teses.ufrj.br/IPPUR_M/IvySchipper.pdf, a mention of red and yellow beach warning flags, quoted from O Globo of 1989.11.05: "bandeiras vermelhas que proíbem banho de mar e" (…) "amarelas que apontam a existência de valas e correnteza" meaning red flags which forbid swimming and yellow flags pointing to underwater trenches and strong currents.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 17 September 2007