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Nearly 100 Rescued from Rip Currents in Santa Monica Waters

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

August 5, 2015 -- Warm waters, big crowds fleeing hot, muggy days and dangerous rip currents have pushed the number of rescues of Los Angeles County beachgoers to almost 2,000 since late July, including nearly 100 in Santa Monica’s ocean waters, officials reported Tuesday.

Between July 26 and August 2, there have been 1,949 rescues at L.A. County beaches after high surf resulted in strong rip currents along the shore, said lifeguard Capt. Kenichi Haskett.

At the same time, a heat wave characterized by high humidity blasted the region, particularly inland. Those conditions sent an estimated 5.85 million visitors to Los Angeles County local beaches, where large surf and strong winds tossed the waters.

Due to El Nino, ocean temperatures are also increasing, luring more visitors into potentially dangerous waters, Haskett said.

“I’d say it’s analogous to the perfect storm for lifeguards,” he said, adding that the number of rescues is “unusually high.”

The 30 lifeguards at Santa Monica’s beaches have been kept busy, he said

In addition to 97 rescues between July 26 and August 3, there were 16 major incidents requiring lifeguards along the Santa Monica coast, including such medical emergencies as heart attacks, according to statistics from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which includes lifeguard services. There were another 130 minor instances where lifeguards were needed.

From the beginning of July until August 3, the statistics show 303 rescues, 74 major incidents and 342 minor ones at Santa Monica beaches. Attendance from that period was more than 1.9 million.

Because of the potentially treacherous conditions in the water, lifeguards are urging beachgoers to be particularly vigilant. They reminded visitors to always check with a lifeguard for the latest ocean and beach conditions and to swim, surf and body board with a companion and stay out of the water at night.

Swimmers should also avoid rip currents, which are “characterized by churning, choppy water and a break in the incoming wave pattern,” a statement from the lifeguard division said.

“These currents can quickly carry even the strongest swimmer out to sea,” officials said.

Lifeguards were busy at Santa Monica beaches last year as well, thanks to heat waves, riptide-causing erosion and, again, warmer ocean temperatures.  Lifeguards across the county performed a record 15,851 ocean rescues in 2014, breaking the previous record of 14,096 in 1997

In Santa Monica, lifeguards made 2,355 ocean rescues last year, compared to 1,614 in 2013, officials said.

Throughout this week, LA County lifeguards responded to a total of 1,457 medical calls, rescued 22 vessels in distress and resuscitated 33 people, the lifeguard division reported.

From January 1 through August 2 of this year, lifeguards have performed 8,493 rescues, responded to 10,909 medical calls, made 236 board rescues and performed 291 resuscitations. Two people have drowned.

Overall beach attendance reached 45.1 million visitors and is on track to exceed that of the last several years, officials said.

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