OC LIFEGUARDS HANDS FULL
We are on the tail end of high surf and red flag conditions generated by tropical storms in close proximity to Southern California and storms in the Southern Hemisphere OC Lifeguards hands full is an understatement. Even beaches that don’t typically get some of the summer wave activity had dangerously heavy waves. OC Lifeguards, who handle the Laguna Beach and Dana Point areas, had their hands full over the last 3-5 days with a drowning and body recovery effort still going on off Salt Creek Beach. The swimmer was said to have disappeared under a wave and never made it back to the surface. I talked to a young lifeguard this morning and lifeguards believe he hit his head and was knocked unconscious or broke his neck and never made it back to the surface. Our condolences go out to the family of the deceased. For closure, the team at AlisoBeach is hoping they locate the body and soon.
Today’s waves were still pretty heavy in the 3-6 foot range, and with a little wind, rip currents and a higher tide the waves were detonating on the sand bar. The conditions were fun but challenging. I am sure that OC Lifeguards are thrilled that many kids are back in school and that will also be helpful as a massive south swell arrives Wednesday and continues through Friday. Wave heights have been predicted to be anywhere from 8 foot to 20 foot plus. My hope is that most people stay out of the water. You can get swept out quickly and then put your own life as well as the well being of the lifeguards whose job it is to keep you safe. Sometimes you can’t help it and nature catches you off guard and you need lifeguard’s help. In this case, for most swimmers and wave riders, the waves will simply be unsafe with conditions so powerful that it is recommended you stay away unless you have tremendous experience.
With riptides and pounding shore waves today, a few friends and I were asked repeatedly if we had fins on by a young lifeguard. I watched a gal get sucked out on a body board and into a riptide. I could tell she was gassed. Fortunately, there was a lull in the sets. I started paddling that way because I felt like she was ripe for doing an end over end in a wave she was not prepared for. She laid her head down on her board and stopped paddling with her back turned to the incoming waves. That is a really bad strategy, and where she was sitting put a bulls eye on her back for a wipe out and beat down of epic proportions. The ocean is indiscriminate. She can get you at any time. As I got to her I told her, “Hey, you look tapped out are you okay?” She agreed that she was gassed and I told her I would pull her in. I told her not to panic and to be ready to turn to avoid an incoming wave if need be.
As I got her closer to shore, the on duty lifeguard was just coming to the water’s edge as a friend of mine was trying to point out that she was in trouble. He seemed more fixated on myself and a couple of friends that were riding in the danger zone and rips. Her accent was European and she clearly seemed out of place. Not only did she not have fins but also she had some sort of aqua socks or shoes on. In heavy surf, you have to have fins on plain and simple. The lifeguards use fins and they are used to help them save lives. I just don’t understand people and how naively they put themselves at risk in the ocean. For one unlucky man and family this weekend, that underestimation of the power of the ocean ended in tragedy.
OC Lifeguards hands full but people can do them a big favor by staying out of the water when the surf is elevated. Salt Creek and the Laguna area beaches all break with heavy shore break conditions and they will take a life or injure even the experienced. This can happen at any time even when the surf is smaller. Always swim or ride in front of lifeguard towers and check in with lifeguards about conditions before throwing yourself or allowing your kids out there into deadly conditions. It could be a matter of life and death.
Aliso Beach is expecting massive waves 8-10 foot plus with larger sets Wednesday to Thursday. If this is a family day with kids hoping to enjoy the water, it is not a good idea to come down to Aliso Beach this week. Should you decide to come down anyways, it is recommended keeping children or any inexperienced swimmers in your party from the water. It is just too dangerous with the increased risks of being pulled out from shore and sucked into heavy waves with bad intentions for unsuspecting beach goers.