While flocks of tourists and locals are expected to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend at the beach later this week, San Diego first responders shared safety information visitors should keep in mind while they are out enjoying themselves.
The first thing San Diego Lifeguard Division Chief James Gartland wants to remind the public is to continue following coronavirus pandemic guidelines. He said that although California is expected to reopen June 15, it’s important to practice social distancing and wear masks indoors and in crowded spaces.
“We have a big date coming up – June 15 – but that’s not here right now, so we want you to follow all the guidelines,” Chief Gartland told NBC 7. “We want you to wear the mask, practice social distancing. We are not fully out of the pandemic, so we want people to be aware of that and be cautious.”
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Waterwise, he advises anyone who is not a skilled swimmer to wear lifejackets to help support them out on the beach. It’s also important to note that rip currents are ongoing in San Diego and to be mindful of them while out on the shore.
“If you get caught up in a rip current, try to signal somebody,” Gartland advised. “Put your arm in the air and then swim parallel to shore to try to get out of the rip current area. Get some help coming. Wave your arm, call to somebody near you, shout out.”
Police, meanwhile, are reminding residents and visitors or rules to follow during the holiday celebrations.
“We know there’s going to be large crowds down here,” San Diego Police Department Capt. Scott Wahl said. “We want to make sure everyone keeps in mind there are still regulations that were in place before and still in place today.”
Smoking, drinking and glass items are prohibited on San Diego beaches, Wahl warned. Bonfires are welcomed but only on city-designated pits. Wahl discourages anyone from creating their own bonfire.
As for parking, police expect lots to fill up quickly and officers encourage beachgoers to take public transportation or carpool is possible.
“Expect it could be challenging finding parking,” Wahl said. “If you can find alternative means of transportation, please do it. You’ll do yourself a favor.”
To help alleviate traffic and in an effort to prevent any gridlock, traffic officers will be guiding cars in populated areas. Wahl added that SDPD will have extra patrols on hand at the coast due to anticipated crowds.
Despite the large crowds expected, authorities said they feel ready to protect visitors this weekend.
“Lifeguards are trained up. Equipment is ready,” Gartland said. “We’re here and we are ready for a big holiday weekend”
“We want to make sure we’re keeping it safe for everybody. Remember – it is a shared responsibility,” Wahl added.