Lifeguards prepare for summer influx

With summer fast approaching, lifeguards across the state are preparing for a large influx of locals and visitors at the beach.

That includes hiring more lifeguards, purchasing more life-saving equipment, and the like.

Lifeguards say beaches everywhere are busy year-round, but in the summer, there are some shorelines where lifeguards see more activity, especially on long weekends like Memorial Day.

"A lot of visitors come to our island. They looking for that hidden gem, the secluded beaches, and sometimes that could be the most dangerous," said Kalani Vierra, operations supervisor of Ocean Safety for Kauai County.

Kauai has 65 beaches but only 10 lifeguard towers, so the Kauai Lifeguard Association has been raising thousands of dollars annually to make beaches safer.

The group has even produced a new video that plays at the airport with the latest information about ocean safety.

"Forty percent of our drownings happen with snorkelers, so we [combat] that with snorkel with a buddy and how to use snorkel gear," said Andy Melamed, marketing director of the Kauai Lifeguard Association.

"We do a bunch of educational visits at schools and resorts, and just educating everybody about the upcoming summer months," said Vierra.

Here on Oahu, lifeguards are doing similar programs, like at last week's educational event for the U.S. Marines.

The City and County of Honolulu has also recently recruited nine new lifeguards.

"Every year, we bump up the staff a little bit. We just had a recruit class come in," said Honolulu Ocean Safety District 2 supervisor Charles Oliveri.

On Oahu, beaches on the south and southeast side get very busy in the summer.

"Since all the kids are out of school, all the colleges are out, and people are going across America for traveling, everyone wants to come to Sandy Beach and Hanauma Bay, so this side of the island is really busy," said Oliveri.

Ocean safety officials said a rule of thumb: when in doubt, don't go out.

"Our lifeguards do talk to people that are not familiar with the beaches. You can see between a local and a tourist, so most of our staff will go out there and talk to the tourist and tell them where to go," said Oliveri.

"You can't put a price on people's lives. Lives are all we have, and to take care of the people who arrive on our island is important," said Melamed.

Kauai County officials say they're celebrating this week as Beach Safety Week. Meanwhile, the City and County of Honolulu has kicked off its National Emergency Medical Services Week.

Expect to see different events happening. You might have a chance to thank your local rescue workers.

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