Florida is a popular destination for scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts, thanks to its warm waters and vibrant marine life. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a novice snorkeler, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the state’s regulations and safety measures, including the use of divers-down flags/devices.
What is a Divers-Down Flag/Device?
A divers-down flag or device is a signaling tool used to alert other boaters that there are divers in the water. It is designed to promote safety and reduce the risk of accidents or collisions between boats and divers. In Florida, the use of divers-down flags/devices is regulated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to ensure the safety of all water enthusiasts.
What Does the State-Required Divers-Down Flag/Device Look Like in Florida?
In Florida, the state regulations stipulate that divers must prominently display a divers-down flag or device to indicate their presence in the water. The specific requirements for the flag/device are as follows:
Size and Shape
The divers-down flag must be a rectangular or square flag with a size of at least 20 inches by 24 inches (if rectangular) or 24 inches by 24 inches (if square). The flag should be divided diagonally into two halves, with the top half being a solid international orange color and the bottom half being a solid white color. The diagonal line should run from the top left corner to the bottom right corner of the flag.
|Rectangular or Square
|20” x 24” or 24” x 24”
|International Orange (Top Half) & White (Bottom Half)
The flag must be displayed from the dive vessel, float, or buoy in such a way that it is visible from all directions. If the divers are diving from the shore, the flag must be displayed on the shore or a float that is towed along, again in a manner that is visible from all directions.
Other Approved Devices
In addition to the traditional divers-down flag, certain other devices are also approved for use in Florida, including:
- Alpha flag – a flag that is rectangular, blue with a white border, and displayed from the surface of the water to indicate the presence of a diver below.
- Diver’s towed buoy – a buoy that is towed by a diver and is separate from the dive vessel or shore. It must meet specific color and size requirements as outlined by the FWC.
When is the Divers-Down Flag/Device Required?
The use of a divers-down flag or device is mandatory in Florida whenever divers or snorkelers are in the water. Whether diving from a boat, shore, or any other vessel, the flag/device must be displayed. This allows other boaters and watercraft operators to be aware of the presence of divers and take necessary precautions to avoid potential accidents.
Penalties for Non-Compliance
Failure to comply with the state regulations regarding the display of a divers-down flag/device can result in penalties and fines. Boaters found not displaying the required flag/device when divers are in the water may face legal consequences, including fines and possible suspension of boating privileges.
Where Can Divers-Down Flags/Devices Be Obtained?
Divers-down flags and devices can be purchased from a variety of locations in Florida, including dive shops, marine supply stores, and online retailers. It’s important to ensure that the flag/device you purchase meets the state’s specifications for size, shape, and color to avoid any issues with compliance.
When planning your diving or snorkeling excursions in Florida, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the state’s regulations and requirements for the use of divers-down flags/devices. Understanding the specifications and mandatory display of the flag/device will not only ensure your safety but also contribute to the overall safety of all water enthusiasts in the area.
By adhering to the state regulations and using the correct divers-down flags/devices, you can enjoy your underwater adventures in Florida with peace of mind, knowing that you are promoting safety and awareness in the water.