Honolulu mayor signs bill to extend beach lifeguard hours

HONOLULU — Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Thursday signed a bill extending lifeguard service hours from dawn to sundown, expected to begin July 1, 2021.

Current lifeguard hours at most beaches are from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

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“As every lifeguard knows, to save a life you have to be flexible, strong and adaptable, and that’s exactly what this bill does,” Caldwell said in a statement.

Honolulu Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services oversees 200 miles of coastline extending up to 1 mile offshore at more than 70 beach parks.

“Once this program is fully implemented, our residents and visitors can be assured that when you go to the beach anytime during daylight hours, our highly skilled lifeguards will be there if you need help, leading to more lives being saved,” said Jim Howe, director of the Honolulu Emergency Services Department.

Howe must submit program details and a budget for the extended hours to the city council by Jan. 1, 2021.

The text of the bill, introduced by Councilor Kymberly Pine, noted increased demand for lifeguard services because of increasing use of Oahu’s beaches by residents and visitors.

The city recorded more than 22.5 million visits to beach parks, more than 1 million preventative actions, nearly 105,000 first-aid actions and more than 2,100 rescues in 2018.

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The city instituted sunup-to-sundown coverage at Hanauma Bay Natural Preserve in February as a pilot project at the popular snorkeling spot.

“This measure will improve the quality of life for our lifeguards by giving them more flexible schedules and it will allow them to save more lives on our beaches,” Pine said.

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