MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. – After months of beaches being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Greg Edmonston is happy that people are able to return to their slice of Southern California paradise.
"I love that the beach is this giant park and everybody can come to enjoy it. We're here to help you guys enjoy the beach," said Edmonston.
What You Need To Know
- Check in with a lifeguard when you arrive at the beach
- Surf and swim within your abilities
- Rip currents are common in the spring
- Majority of ocean rescues are likely due to rip currents
But safety is No. 1 when it comes to that enjoyment. After seeing historic numbers of visitors and ocean rescues the first weekend beaches reopened, Edmonston is leaving no stone unturned in anticipation of high numbers again.
"Several of us are on our dive teams, so on a busy weekend like this, we have had several calls, so I'll definitely make sure to go through my gear and make sure that everything is ready to go if there is a call," said Edmonston.
A majority of the 450-plus ocean rescues that first weekend were attributed to rip currents, which are conditions that are common this time of year. As professional observers, lifeguards are always checking ocean conditions and are trained to identify areas that are going to be hazards.
"It's one of the things we heavily work on. You have to learn how to spot rip currents. Every one of our lifeguards can walk out onto the sand and say rip current...rip current...rip current," said Edmonston.
Already out patrolling the sand between Manhattan and Hermosa Beach is Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Pono Barnes looking for rip currents.
"There's definitely a current that's moving out right here," said Barnes.
During periods of rip currents, waves start to erode away at the sandy bottom causing inconsistencies on the ocean floor, creating sandbars and areas of big holes. Pono says you can identify rip currents by looking for brownish water, an outward flowing current, and no waves breaking in that area.
“If you look around and you notice that there's waves breaking over here or over here, or if you see people equally as far out as you, but they're in ankle deep water and you're in chest deep water, that means that you're in that hole, and you're probably soon to get swept out in that rip current," said Barnes.
If swimmers are caught in a rip current, they must remember not to panic.
"It's best if you can swim parallel to shore and get out of it, but if you're stuck, my best advice is just to stay calm, float, wait for help. We will come get you," said Edmonston.
But their best advice is to check in with a lifeguard upon arrival at the beach to show you where it is safest to swim the water to help prevent a rip current rescue.