Swimming between the flags

Few minutes to read
By Clare Naden
Published on

In our globetrotting society, beach safety signs and flags need to be understood in a language that everyone can speak. Internationally agreed illustrations and protocols are key, and the International Standard for that has just been updated.

Good things happen when the world agrees and, when it comes to safety signs, there is no doubt. Cutting through differences in language, culture, location and setting, ISO’s flagship standards for graphical symbols ensure everyone understands vital safety information – everywhere, including the beach.

Guidance for the use of such standards as they relate to beaches has just been updated so that everyone can feel safe in the sun. 

Yellow and red water safety signs indicating the nearest lifeguard station.

ISO 20712-3:2020, Water safety signs and beach safety flags – Part 3: Guidance for use, assists with the selection and use of water safety signs outlined in ISO 7010, Graphical symbols – Safety colours and safety signsRegistered safety signs, and beach safety flags as specified in ISO 20712-2, Water safety signs and beach safety flags – Part 2: Specifications for beach safety flags – Colour, shape, meaning and performance.

The updated version of ISO 20712-3 provides guidance on where to place the signs and flags, how to put them up, lighting, maintenance, and more. It also gives information on the design and location of multiple signs, leaving no grain of sand unturned.

Together, the collection of standards detail international best practice when it comes to the use of water safety signs, enabling uniformity across the world. This, in turn, leads to familiarity and greater understanding of the symbols, which helps improve safety for everyone.

ISO 20712-3 and ISO 20712-2 were developed by ISO’s subcommittee SC 2, Safety identification, signs, shapes, symbols and colours, which operates under technical committee ISO/TC 145, Graphical symbols. Its secretariat is held by DIN, ISO’s member for Germany.

The standards can be purchased from your national ISO member or through the ISO Store.

Press contact


Journalist, blogger or editor?

Want to get the inside scoop on standards, or find out more about what we do? Get in touch with our team or check out our media kit.