Is This Really the Time to Let the Seasonal Lifeguards Go?

by on September 5, 2014 · 6 comments

in Culture, Environment, Health, Ocean Beach, San Diego

Inside and looking out in the tower – OB’s main lifeguard station. Photo by Annie Lane.

Large Surf, Rip Currents and Large Crowds Expected This Weekend – But Most of the Lifeguards Are Gone

There was big surf and big crowds at the beaches on Labor Day weekend.  It was estimated that 574,000 people visited local beaches.  Monday, Labor Day itself – was the busiest day, with a reported 227,000 humans on the sand at OB, PB, Mission Beach, and La Jolla beaches.

During the Labor Day weekend,lifeguards made 164 rescues, 182 medical aid calls and 7,823 preventative acts – which are warning people of rip currents and other dangers – when they enter the water to warn swimmers to move to a safer area.

Lifeguard Lt. Andy Lerum told the media that at this rate, lifeguards will have rescued more than 6,000 people at San Diego beaches in 2014.  In comparison, a typical year, about 5,000 rescues are made –  a thousand less a year.  And on Labor Day more than 120 lifeguards were on duty.  He said:

“Rip currents have the tendency to drift you into a bad area or a dangerous spot.”

“We have rip currents at all city beaches. They are very active and we have a little bit swell left over from the hurricane down south.”

99% of all rescues are in the rip currents.

And with weather reports talking about another hurricane off the coast of Baja and moving north, there’s probably going to be continued large waves and rip currents.  With sunny days also expected, this coming weekend promises to have many beachgoers and people going into the ocean.

So, maybe –  just maybe, this is NOT the time to cut 200 seasonal lifeguards – you know, the men and women who staff all the small lifeguard stations that dot San Diego’s beaches – including OB, of course – up and down the city’s coast.  But that’s just what the City has done.

Labor Day – last Monday, was the  last day for 200 seasonal lifeguards.

So, this weekend, we’re bound to have strong waves and more rip currents , and large crowds at the beaches – there just won’t be the lifeguards.

Sure, the main life guard stations will be staffed, but all the small ones will be boarded up.

Am I the only one who thinks it’s likely that those seasonal lifeguards are continually being needed for the size of the anticipated attendance at the beaches and the anticipated waves and rips?

It’s not like nature follows the calendar. So, just because the calendar says it’s time for the seasonals to be let go, what about the dangers to public health and safety?

News Sources:




{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Tyler September 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm

I should have added yesterday – they keep tower 5 open beyond Labor Day. It’s been open every day since Monday.

I agree on busy weekends they should still staff the smaller towers. I don’t think it’s necessary on the weekdays, though. I’ve seen plenty of guards on the carts and trucks still making continual rounds.

Solid point about weather not always following the seasonal calendar changes. If it stays hot then they should stick around on busy days.


David millette September 5, 2014 at 4:10 pm

if they would concentrate on the people in the water instead of harassing buskers and artist it would be nice


obracer September 6, 2014 at 5:23 pm

It’ a beach boardwalk, part of and ocean front park, buskers are at seaport village, tweekers with drums are not ARTIST !

Lifeguards in O.B. also respond to residential and commercial emergencies near the beach, they often arrive a couple minutes before fire and paramedics, we need them year round !


David millette September 6, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Buskers have a right to be at the boardwalk and so do first amendment protected artist


Frank Gormlie September 5, 2014 at 9:58 pm

The U-T states: Surf: The surf will generally be in the 3′ to 5′ range this weekend, with sets reaching 7-feet in San Diego County on Monday, says Surfline and Solspot. The waves will generate hazardous longshore currents and rip currents along the entire San Diego County coastline at least into Tuesday. Inexperienced swimmers and surfers should only enter the ocean in front of lifeguard stands that are staffed. Sea surface temperatures are in the 74-75 degree range in San Diego County, which is unusually warm.


Frank Gormlie September 5, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Here’s Channel 6: The waves and surf are expected to build to 4 to 6 feet with local sets of up to 8 feet at favored south- and southwest-facing beaches in the North County by this afternoon, according to the NWS.

The currents could result in dangerous swimming conditions, especially for those with little experience in the water, according to the weather service. Beachgoers were advised to obey posted warning signs, use caution in and around the water and to swim near a lifeguard.


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