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Be Aware of Temporary, Intermittent Lifeguard Tower Closures on Oʻahu

Sherry Bracken
Sherry Bracken

Honolulu Ocean Safety is advising beachgoers to be more aware of whether lifeguard towers are open at the beach.

The city’s Emergency Services Department, which oversees Ocean Safety, says there may be temporary, intermittent closures of the towers at certain beaches.

That’s because of staffing availability as the division starts to expand its coverage using a new “dawn to dusk” operation model.

Lifeguards previously worked from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. But the dawn to dusk model became law in 2019 — and went into effect this past July.

Ocean Safety Chief John Titchen says the closures will be done strategically and sparingly — and will only happen at beaches where they anticipate the least amount of activity.

But he says even though towers are closed, there are lifeguards patrolling the shoreline.

"What we’re doing is using more mobile units than we ever have before. We’re finding that it works, that we’re able to respond to a lot more 911 calls, to a lot more calls for our service," he said.

Titchen says people should call 911 if there is an ocean emergency.

"What we’re aiming to do is grow more of our mobile response fleet. And as that happens, unfortunately, what it means is we’re reallocating or moving lifeguards around to certain areas. I think the thing we really like people to understand is that just because they see a tower closed, does not mean Ocean Safety is not on duty. As a matter of fact, we are on duty more than we’ve ever been before."

Beachgoers can check for scheduled tower closures through the HNL Info app.

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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