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Dive Shop Home » Dive Flag Regulations and Requirements

Dive Flag Regulations and Requirements

Diver Down Flag

A dive flag warns boaters that scuba divers are in the area. In most states and countries, the use of a dive flag is required by law. If diving from a boat, you can fly the flag from the boat providing you stay in the immediate vicinity of the boat. Otherwise you will fly the flag from a float that is towed by you, using tow line and a reel.

Required features

  • Your dive flag must be either the red-and-white flag, the blue-and-white Alpha flag, or both as required by local regulations.
  • The staff needs to hold the flag high enough so boaters can see it, even with waves and chop present.
  • The float needs to be buoyant enough to hold the flag and staff, and stable enough that it doesnít flip over easily.
  • You usually tow the float so you need a line and something to carry the line on, such as a reel.
  • You may also need a flag stiffener which keeps the flag unfurled when there is no wind. Please note that a stiffener is required in many areas, such as Florida.

Since rules and regulations vary from state to state and location to location, make sure you have the locally recognized dive flag. You will either need the red and white diver-down flag or the blue and white Alpha flag. If youíre not sure which flag you will need, contact your local dive shop for assistance. Should you have no way to tell which flag you need to use, get both flags and fly them both.

Joeís Dive Flag Tips:

  • Know the laws in the area youíre diving and follow them. Dive flag laws clearly state when you must fly the flag, how close you must stay to it, and how far boaters must stay away.
  • Donít make the mistake of assuming boaters will follow the law. A lot of boaters donít recognize dive flags. If you hear a boat while youíre underwater, stay down until it leaves before surfacing near your flag.
  • Make sure you have a reel to take up the slack in your tow line. Allowing slack in your tow line can create a dangerous situation for you and your fellow divers.

Florida Dive Flag and Boating Regulations:

The size of diver-down flags displayed on vessels has been increased from 12" X 12" to 20" X 24" and requires a stiffener to keep the flag unfurled. Dive flags carried on floats may still be 12 inches by 12 inches.

Dive flags on vessels must be displayed so that visibility to the flag is not obstructed.

Flags are also required for beach entry divers.

Vessel operators must make reasonable efforts to maintain a distance of 100 feet from any divers-down flag while on a river, inlet, or navigation channel; divers must make a reasonable effort to stay within 300 feet of the divers-down flag on all waters other than rivers, inlets, or navigation channels; vessel operators must make a reasonable effort to maintain a distance of 300 feet from vessels displaying dive flags on these waters.

Divers shall attempt to stay within 100 feet of the divers-down flag on rivers, inlets and navigation channels.

Vessels may approach within 100 feet or 300 feet of a divers-down flag at idle speed.

"Buzzing" a dive flag has been added to the description of reckless operation of a vessel, which is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail.

Divers shall not, except in case of emergency, display the divers-down flag in an area which would constitute a navigational hazard.

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