Big rescues come in winter

Lifeguards stay busy in ‘off season’

Despite a decline in attendance, this is the time of year that Solana Beach lifeguards have some of their hardest work cut out for them.

“We get most of our big rescues really in the winter time,” Fletcher Cove lifeguard Jason Shook said. “With big surf, west-facing beaches and the majority of the storms we get coming from the northwest, we take the brunt of those storms. Everyone surfs these days it seems, so we get novice surfers who are able to get out into the surf and either get scared or break the board or leash and have trouble getting in.”

And for those who continue to hit the surf, a somewhat skeleton crew of San Diego lifeguards remains. At the Fletcher Cove station, Shook and two others monitor the beach. It is a large decrease from the summer season, when anywhere from 11 to 13 lifeguards are on duty during daylight hours.

“All lifeguard agencies are very similar in that aspect,” Shook said. “They reduce staff in the off season, post most people up in main beaches, and send out periodic patrols.”

Many of the surveillance towers that line the sand during the summer have been moved to a storage facility at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Of the three lifeguards on duty each day, two remain at the Fletcher Cove station while one roves the beach.

“There are certain beaches that are guarded year-round, and just try to stick to those beaches if you’re going to go,” Shook said, adding that more lifeguards would be on duty if an event or situation calls for it.

Stingray stings are the other year-round risk to Southern California beachgoers. Lifeguards treated one person recently for stepping on one of the creatures, which are known to feed in calm surf. While not usually life-threatening, there is a risk of anaphylactic shock, another reason Shook said to stay near the lifeguard towers if going into the water.

“(Anaphylactic shock) is rare, but it does happen,” he said. “Stingray stings are just mainly a pain. The only thing you can do for them is soak them in hot water.”

The Fletcher Cove station is open year-round, but like in the summer, lifeguards are only on duty during daylight hours.

“Pretty much everyone goes home at dark,” Shook said. “You get some strange, questionable people that come out at night on the beach, but that’s the sheriff’s duty.”

Related posts:

  1. Alcohol beach ban extended in Solana Beach
  2. Booze banned on beaches in SB
  3. Explosive washes ashore in Solana Beach
  4. Excellent water quality reported at beaches
  5. Response to ‘A plea to the lifeguards,’ published Oct. 23

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