SAN DIEGO — With hundreds flocking to the coast to soak in the final moments of summer, San Diego lifeguards are advising beachgoers to brush up on their safety knowledge.

Lt. Jacob Magnness with the San Diego Lifeguard Service says that the department is currently in its peak staffing season. They’ve mobilized extra personnel to accommodate the anticipated Labor Day rush, as well as extra trucks, utilities vehicles and ATVs.

They also have personal watercrafts (PWC) actively patrolling the ocean.

“(PWCs) can get up and down the beach very quickly in crowds like this on holiday weekends — it can be hard for our vehicles to get up and down the beach,” said Magness. “Seconds matter when someone is drowning.”

However, Magnness says that most calls lifeguards respond to can be easily prevented.

“Almost every day, we are dealing with separated children from their parents and vise-versa,” he explained. “We always get them reunited, but the best way is to keep an eye on your children.”

In order to avoid tragic accidents, lifeguards also ask anyone coming to the beaches over the weekend to follow these safety guidelines:

  • Check in with the latest ocean conditions before heading to the beach or getting into the water.
  • Never swim alone or away from an on-duty lifeguard.
  • Do not rely on floatation devices, such as rafts or inner tubes — even U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets are not a substitute for swimming ability.
  • If you get caught in a rip current, swim sideways until free. Do not try to swim against the current’s pull.
  • Do not swim while under the influence of drugs, alcohol or other medication that might cause impairment.
  • Do not dive into unfamiliar waters — step feet first into the water when you’re entering for the first time. If you’re diving in a known area, protect your head, neck and spine.
  • If you’re looking to swim a long distance, travel parallel to the shoreline.
  • Stay clear of coastal bluffs, as they can collapse and cause injury.
  • Never turn your back on the ocean.

Lifeguards also encourage all beachgoers to follow regulations and directions from on-duty personnel throughout the duration of their visit, including reporting any hazardous conditions to beach officials.

And, as always, do not hesitate to wave or call for a lifeguard to help if you or someone in your group is in trouble.