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Flying the American flag upside down is an officially recognized signal of distress.
Here is the relevant part of the US Code of Laws regarding how to fly the flag when in distress:
THE UNITED STATES FLAG CODE
Title 4, Chapter 1
§ 8(a)The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
Rules for displaying an American Flag
Displaying the Flag flag hanging over street1. When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south street.