People who swim off Oahu’s shores are monitored by lifeguards during business hours but are generally left unsupervised before 9 a.m. and after 5:30 p.m.

Councilwoman Kymberly Pine wants that to change. She introduced legislation Tuesday to extend lifeguard services “from dawn to dusk.”

“This is a serious public safety issue that impacts our largest industry,” Pine said in a news release. “We need to take action.”

Honolulu City Council Vice Chair Kymberly Pine before 3rd reading vote on Bill 35 rideshare bill.
City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine wants to extended lifeguard hours on Oahu beaches. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The council passed and funded a similar resolution she introduced three years ago calling for extended lifeguard hours but “the administration has not moved past the pilot project stage,” Pine said.

Jim Howe, director of the Honolulu emergency services department, said the administration agrees that extending lifeguard hours can prevent fatal drownings. The city extended lifeguard service hours at Hanauma Bay from sun up to sun down, according to Howe, and “this has already saved lives.”

Extending lifeguard services elsewhere would require a “major recruitment and training effort,” Howe said.

“We look forward to continuing this dialogue with Councilmember Pine as well as the entire City Council,” he said.

According to the Hawaii Department of Health, 682 people drowned in the state from 2008 to 2017. Over half of those people were visitors, and the majority drowned on Oahu.

Pine is proposing that the director of emergency services establish a program to provide extended lifeguard services to all city beach parks and state parks that are currently monitored by city lifeguards.

“Our beaches are among the top visitor destinations in the world and we know that residents and tourists often enjoy these public spaces early in the morning or near sundown, when lifeguards are not on duty,” said Pine, who chairs the Committee on Business Economic Development and Tourism.

“We see too many tragic stories about people drowning or getting in trouble in the ocean.”

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