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Michigan state beaches are making a change to their flag system

Michigan State beaches are making a change to safety protocols.

Effective this summer, double red flags mean that people are not to enter the water. If they do, they will risk a $500 fine.

Under the new system, a single red flag means high hazard and it is recommended that people stay on the beach.

Yellow flags indicate a medium hazard and green flags are posted during low hazard times .

The DNR started to implement double red flags on state beaches last year, said Pat Whalen a Department of Natural Resources Plainwell district supervisor.

“The responses we got was very good. We had a lot of positive response from the potential saving of lives when those double red flags are instituted. I have no doubt that on many of those occasions there were lives that were saved. The effectiveness comes from requiring people to exit the water,” Whalen said.

The double red flag system is only mandated on state beaches, city and municipal beaches can decide if they want to adopt the flags system.

“But what we must understand is that the beach flag system is just one tool for lifeguards to use to warn and educate the public,” Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project executive of public relations Dave Benjamin said. “The beach flag system is absolutely not a replacement for lifeguards.”

Michigan state beaches currently do not have lifeguards.