by: Diane Ako
NORTH SHORE OF OAHU (KHNL)- Every time the weather service warns us about high surf, the drill is the same for lifeguards and civil defense workers. Put out the warnings, then watch, wait, and hope for the best. Big waves can bring big danger, says Ocean Safety lifeguard John Hoogsteden. "It can give you paralyzing or life threatening injuries."
That's why North Shore lifeguards are on high alert. "Lifeguards are issuing preventative warnings to expect high surf over the next few days and diligently telling people there are no recreational activities in the water on the north shore in the next few days," details Hoogsteden.
Lifeguards put up warning signs at all beaches along the north shore. It's best to watch the action, not create it. Tourist Jim Espinoza agrees. "These waves are enormous. Big, strong; it's great for the surfers but for the average swimmer it could be dangerous."
While lifeguards patrol the water, Oahu Civil defense workers monitor the land. For 35 years, Cliff and Joann Hirayasu have volunteered with the agency. They handle all situations, but for today, "We're on standby for high surf coming in. Soon as we are activated we'll come down and monitor the surf. If it's bad we'll start notifying the public."
They'll have to close the roads if waves wash over the road. It can scatter debris or worse. "We do have waves that come up high enough to wash over the road. It can hit the cars as they drive by and push them across the street."
Hirayasu is also listening to see how close it gets to homes. "We are to evacuate homes if it does go into the beach front."