California Beaches


California Lifeguard History - Long Beach Has Many Firsts

Their camaraderie is appealing, their rugged smiles are charming, and their no-nonsense approach to saving lives makes California's guardians of the beach--The Lifeguards--its heroes and champions!

Pictured are men who served the California "guard". They meet and often greet the public at the Long Beach Lifeguard Museum, filled with a head-spinning history of "firsts". Long Beach was the first city in the U.S. to staff a full time lifeguard service over 100 years ago. Tourists staying at the newly-built beach hotels didn't recognize the dangers of the Pacific coast, and some were "lost". Hotels began employing lifeguards to help protect customers from drowning. Some of the earliest lifeguards in Long Beach worked at hotels first, then were employed into the city's lifeguard department.

Tips for beach-goers:

Parents, do not park your children in front of a lifeguard tower and ask a lifeguard to watch them. You need to be responsible for your own children.

Stay next to shore if you are not versed in ocean safety and swimming, especially during strong wave conditions with rip currents.

Don't go into water up to your neck, thinking it's safe. There's usually a trough just beyond your last step. Once pulled into that zone by a current that takes you away from shore, many swimmers panic. Some are rescued but if a lifeguard doesn't see you go under, you're out of luck.