Chance Pardon loves his Summer job as a lifeguard in Los Angeles County. He considers his outgoing personality a key part of his job.
“We’re friendly people. We like to talk to our guests,” Pardon said. “We’re up in our tiny box sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t come up and ask us about the conditions of the day.”
Talking to a lifeguard before getting in the ocean can be a valuable tool for beachgoers.
“Check in with the lifeguard,” advises Los Angeles Country Fire Department Lifeguard spokesperson Lidia Barillas. “We’ll be happy to point out the current conditions and hazards that are going on that day for that area.”
An estimated 150 million people visit California beaches each year.
“Obviously we can’t have long, drawn out conversations but we are very happy to go over conditions and hazards and any other questions that you and your family may have,” Barillas said. “Part of our day is actually educating the public on the conditions and hazards that are going on. ”
Barillas said getting the current conditions from a lifeguard on duty is especially important if it’s been a while since you’ve been to a specific beach.
“Each day the conditions can change. We can have larger surf. We can have stronger lateral currents. We can have surf in a different direction. Conditions can change the contour of the ocean. The lifeguard that’s working that day can go over the hazards of that day and whether it’s safe to swim,” Barillas said.
Chance Pardon agrees.
“Coming up and talking to us is always a great thing. Everyday is a different day here at the beach. No two days have the exact same conditions, so things have changed since the last time you were here. ”
Lidia Barillas says she and her fellow lifeguards ask people to swim and surf within their abilities and to keep a close eye on the current conditions. She also advices beachgoers to avoid swimming near piers.
“A common mistake, especially in pier areas, is people tend to want to swim near the pier pilings or near any rocks and jetty’s because they see the water looks calmer,” warned Barillas. “Actually that calm water is an indication that there is some sort of trench or wake current. We try to get people away from those areas.”
More information about beach safety and the Los Angeles County Fire Department lifeguard program can be found at: