Kaua‘i County data shows recent decline in lifeguard rescues

Listen to this Article
3 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

Recent data from the County of Kaua’i Ocean Safety Bureau indicates a decline in aquatic rescues this year following the department’s announcement of the extension of operating hours at lifeguarded beaches.

Beginning May 1, lifeguard hours were extended by one hour, now running from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., in an effort to reduce the number of drownings and beach injuries.

“Extended hours will be permanent all year round,” said Ocean Safety Bureau Chief Kalani Vierra in an email. 

A chart showing the Ocean Safety Bureau’s lifeguard incident and safety data, including number of drownings and rescues, from January 2022 through April 2024. (Emma Grunwald / Kauaʻi Now)

The decision to extend hours followed one fatal drowning in February of this year when a 20-year-old Idaho woman died after being pulled from waters off Lumahai Beach – known to be one of the most dangerous beaches on the island. 

In addition to the one fatal drowning, the Ocean Safety Bureau reported that from January to April 30, 2024, there were a total of 135 rescues, which included 38 jet ski rescues. That averages out to 33.75 rescues per month. 


The monthly average is significantly lower than 2023ʻs data when from January through December, there was an average of 50.4 rescues per month. That data showed there had been a total of 8 fatal drownings in 2023 and 605 rescues, which included 188 jet ski rescues.

2022 had a slightly lower monthly average than 2022, with an average of 45 monthly rescues. That data showed there were a total of 7 fatal drownings and 417 total rescues, which included 123 jet ski rescues.

The data provided by the Ocean Safety Bureau showed that, so far in 2024, there have been 2,437 instances where lifeguards provided first aid assistance and 55,976 times where they had taken preventative actions. That can be compared to 177,767 preventative actions and 8,138 reports of first aid assistance in 2023, and 7,482 first aid reports and 174,833 preventative actions in 2022. 

Notably, the amount of public contact, or any engagement between the public and lifeguards, increased dramatically in 2023 and 2024, compared to 2022 data. The total of 85,630 public contacts averages out to approximately 21,408 per month in 2024 so far. That’s slightly higher than 2023ʻs average of 20,093, but significantly higher than 2022’s monthly average of 5,994 public contacts.


The increase in lifeguardsʻ engagement with the public was noted by Fire Chief Michael Gibson in a response to Kauaʻi Now on the reduction in rescues. 

“We are pleased to see a lower number of rescues in the first four months of 2024, as the numbers of public contacts remain consistent with the previous 2-year averages,” Gibson said in an email. 

 “The average numbers for providing first aid is also averaging slightly lower than the previous 2 calendar year averages, which is also great news.”

In addition to the extended hours, the county also added 12 new full-time lifeguard positions, bringing the total number of lifeguards up to 70 – 64 full-time and six part-time. Lifeguards are split between the islandʻs nine lifeguarded beaches: Kē‘ē, Hā‘ena, Hanalei, Anahola, Kealia, Lydgate, Po‘ipū, Salt Pond, and Kekaha. 


Emma Grunwald
Emma Grunwald is a reporter for Kauaʻi Now. You can reach her at
Read Full Bio

Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Kauai Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments