The Dive Flag (or Skin Diver's Flag) is an international symbol to boaters of diving activities in the area. It is meant as a safety precaution, since divers may surface unexpectedly. Divers developed this flag in 1957. Most states now have laws requiring the use of the dive flag. Many of those states impose fines or even jail time if a dive flag is not displayed or if a boat travels within an unsafe distance of the flag. Divers are expected to stay within a certain radius of a boat displaying a dive flag or they should take a buoy displaying the dive flag with them. The dive flag should not be displayed unless divers are currently in the water.
Dive flags are designed with a red field and a white stripe running diagonally from the top left of the flag to the lower right. This flag shouldn't be smaller than 12 inches square, and the white stripe measures one-fifth the flag's width. These measurements are to ensure visibility by boaters from a distance.
International Code Flag "A" (Alpha) may be displayed in conjunction with a dive flag. Divers are required to display the Alpha Flag when diving from a boat. This is to show that the boat's maneuverability is limited because of diving activity. The dive flag is displayed whether a boat's maneuverability is restricted or not.
Both of these flags are meant to protect divers from boating injuries, so it is important to comply with state and federal laws regarding these flags. Since the state laws vary, make sure you obey the distance regulations listed by your state to avoid accidents, fines and/or jail time.
"Boating and Water Use Activities, Final Rule" Federal Register 72:56 (23 March 2007): 13694-13706.
"The Dive Flag" YMCA Scuba Articles By Ellen Holland Keller, J.D.
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