“People won’t notice any difference when they come to the beach,” said San Diego lifeguard Lt. Andy Lerum.
Due to budget cuts, lifeguards lost three permanent lifeguard positions and $100,000 toward hours. They also faced a reduction of about 10 seasonal guards, Lerum said, leaving lifeguards with about 150 seasonal lifeguard staff. But Lerum said lifeguards continue watching over beachgoers, focusing on safety while using creative means to adjust for staffing losses.
“We are just continuing to focus on anytime there’s an opportunity to conserve hours, then we do,” Lerum said. “For instance, if it’s a rainy day, we’ll ask for volunteers to go home.”
While four emergency lifeguards remain staffed around the clock, Lerum said area beach hours change with sunset times.
“We do have 24-hour lifeguard coverage year-round. That’s something other stations don’t have,” Lerum said. “It could be for a sinking boat, a cliff rescue or a boat fire. We wake up and respond just like the firefighters do.”
Two guards remain on La Jolla’s night shift, while two lifeguards remain in Mission Beach.
“Beach hours have not changed from year to year,” Lerum said. “It’s based on sunset time. Sometime around the second week of August, we start closing our stations at 8 p.m. In the middle of winter it gets dark at 4:30 p.m.”
Lerum said summertime beachgoers should continue to follow several rules, including never swim alone, swim where lifeguards are staffed and supervise children.
“We always tell people to talk to lifeguards to identify the best place to swim,” Lerum said.
For more information, visit www.sandiego.gov/lifeguards.