MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. – L.A. County beaches have only been open a little over a week in their phase 1 reopening plan. With folks cooped up in their homes there is no surprise they have ventured to the coast.
What You Need To Know
- Bike paths are now open, masks and social distancing still mandated
- In the opening weekend, LA County lifeguards made 452 ocean rescues
- Beachgoers encouraged to visit a lifeguard tower to find where it's safe to swim
- LA County Lifeguards have 600 recurrent lifeguards ready to staff up their beaches
But they have ventured in historic droves, which has kept the L.A. County lifeguards very busy.
"Last weekend alone, your Los Angeles County lifeguards made 452 ocean rescues, across the division, and our attendance we saw 800,000 people. And just to put that in perspective, that same weekend, our rescue totals were only 14 and we only saw 200,000 people at our beaches," said lifeguard Pono Barnes.
For lifeguards like Pono Barnes, they have been on high alert as a surge of beachgoers are paired with strong riptides.
Last weekend a swimmer went missing in Venice with the body washing up along the shore days later identified as professional wrestler Shad Gaspard. On Thursday morning there was a report of another missing swimmer in Manhattan Beach.
"The area where the missing swimmer was reported to have been last seen, was saturated for about an hour and there were no findings," said Barnes.
Turns out it was just a pod of dolphins, but you can never be too safe.
Thursday’s rescue utilized the robust resources the L.A. County lifeguards have including free divers, scuba divers, and Baywatch boats to name a few. But what makes beach rescues more challenging in this phase 1 reopening is that beach parking lots remain closed.
"We have increased activity but it's being spread out all over the place. It's not proximal to those beach lots like we normally see. So we're having to open a lot more towers to meet the needs of our communities, make sure they're recreating safely here at the beach, " said Barnes.
So with the kickoff to summer for Memorial Day weekend lifeguards are anticipating high attendance and are preparing for it.
Strong riptides are typical in the spring, so if you plan on getting in the water Barnes asks you protect yourself first by visiting the nearest lifeguard tower.
"If you haven't been to the beach in a while and unsure of where the best place to swim is, come talk to us we'll put you in a safe area, and when you're down here make sure you're swimming and surfing within your abilities," said Barnes.