Help and FAQs
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FAQs

Categories
Beach Safety
  1. What is a rip current?
  2. What is an inshore hole?
  3. Why can't I swim in the ocean after it rains?
  4. I've seen beach closure signs during my previous trips to the beach. What do these signs mean?
  5. When I check beach conditions on the lifeguard tower's tide board, I see the word "Caution." What does this mean?
  6. What does it mean when the area around a lifeguard tower is lined with orange cones?
  7. Each time I visit the beach, I see red / orange flags posted near open lifeguard towers. What's that about?
  8. What types of flotation devices are allowed at the beach?
  9. Can I fish with a spear gun on Los Angeles County beaches?
  10. Can I launch my jet ski or boat from the beach? Can I bring a craft onto the beach through the surf line?
  11. Can I drive my car on the beach?
  12. Are fireworks allowed on Los Angeles County beaches?
  13. Can I drink alcohol on Los Angeles County beaches?
  14. What do I do if I find a seal, dolphin or whale on the beach? Is there something I can do to help it?
  15. Are there sharks in the waters off Los Angeles County Beaches?
  16. What do I do if a jellyfish stings me?
  17. Why do I hear a beep coming from lifeguard emergency rescue vehicles?
Email Specific - Employment
  1. What is the cut-off time for the Los Angeles County Ocean Lifeguard Candidate try-out swim?
Email Specific - JG / WATER
  1. What is the WATER Program?
Employment Opportunities
  1. How do I become a Los Angeles County Fire Department Lifeguard?
General Beach Information
  1. Can I bring my pets to the beach?
  2. Where can I park when I go to the beach?
  3. Do you have any beach wheelchairs?
  4. I lost a personal item at the beach. Is there a lost and found I can look through?
  5. Why is the water turning reddish brown? What is red tide?
  6. Why is the water turning green?
  7. What does the yellow flag with a black dot in the center mean?
  8. Can I barbecue on the beach?
  9. Can I have a camp fire or bonfire on the beach?
  10. Is SCUBA diving allowed off Los Angeles County beaches?
  11. Is there a beach in Los Angeles County that is recommended as a safe place to learn to surf?
  12. Can I sleep or camp on the beach?
  13. Can I reserve a spot on the beach for my event?
  14. What time does the beach close?
  15. How do I access the beach if I am disabled?
  16. When do the grunion run?
  17. Do I have to purchase a fishing license to fish on the beach or on a pier?
  18. Is it safe to eat the fish that I catch in Los Angeles County?
  19. Do I need a permit to have a party on the beach?
  20. Can I windsurf and kite-surf on Los Angeles County beaches?
  21. Are there any Los Angeles County-operated beaches that I can bring my dog to?
  22. Is long-distance swimming allowed on Los Angeles County beaches? How far out am I allowed to swim?
  23. How can I find out more info about SCUBA diving off of Catalina Island?
General Program Questions
  1. How can I get an Announcement or Event posted on this Web site?
  2. I don't have access to e-mail. Can I mail you information about my event or activity?
How'd ya do that?!
  1. How do you make those QuickTime VR images?
  2. Sometimes I see strange or implausible images in your QuickTime VR photographs. What's up with that?!
Junior Lifeguard Program
  1. What is the Junior Lifeguard program? How do I register for it?
  2. Uniform Pickup
  3. How do I become a Junior Lifeguard?
  4. How do I become a Los Angeles County Fire Department Junior Lifeguard?
  5. How do I become a Cadet?
Safety Preparedness - Tsunami
  1. What are tsunamis?
  2. What are the Potential Tsunami Inundation Zones?
  3. What is being done to prepare for tsunami emergencies?
  4. What is the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s plan for tsunamis?
  5. What are Tsunami Bulletins, Watches, and Warnings?
  6. What can I do to prepare for tsunami emergencies?
Site Use Issues
  1. Can I post images from your camera feed on my Web site?
  2. Can you please clean the camera?
  3. How do stop images from caching on my windows XP machine running Netscape?
  4. The images on the webpage appear to be old, but the time stamp indicates that it was just updated. What's going on?
  5. Why do you sometimes have two different values for surf height?
  6. What is the UV Index?
  7. What is QuickTime VR?
  8. Where can I get QuickTime?
  9. How often are the QuickTime VRs updated?
  10. I sometimes see gray splotches on the images from your cameras. What's that all about?
  11. What are the black bars on the very top of some of your images, as seen on the QuickTime VR panoramic still photographs?

Beach Safety

Q: What is a rip current?
A: A rip current is a dangerous channel of water leading out to sea. Water left onshore by breaking waves needs somewhere to go and the force of this water forms lateral currents, called feeders, that feed the neck of the rip current. Water rushes out to sea in the neck of the rip current and disperses at the head of the rip current. Usually waves do not break in the rip current's neck; the water is brown and murky from the sand kicked up by the water. Click here to see a series of photos of a rip current at Zuma Beach. And remember that swimming laterally to shore will release you from the rip current's hold. Swimming straight towards shore will only tire you out.
Click here for more info

Q: What is an inshore hole?
A: At certain times of the year, especially during or after periods of large surf, the ocean bottom can be very uneven. Waves break in shallow water and displace the sand on the ocean floor. Ocean patrons may notice this condition while walking through the water close to shore, when just one step sends you from ankle-deep to waist-deep water. These areas may be somewhat difficult to identify. Consult the lifeguard prior to entering the water to get a report of the conditions.

Q: Why can't I swim in the ocean after it rains?
A: It is unsafe to swim in certain locations during and after rainfall since the rainwater can wash the contents of the storm drains out to sea, causing pollution and high bacteria levels.
Click here for more info

Q: I've seen beach closure signs during my previous trips to the beach. What do these signs mean?
A: There are different beach closure and advisory signs with different colors to indicate why and to what extent the beach is closed.
Click here for more info

Q: When I check beach conditions on the lifeguard tower's tide board, I see the word "Caution." What does this mean?
A: Beach conditions change frequently so it is difficult to constantly update the changes. You should always use caution when entering the water! Consult the lifeguard before you get in the water so that he or she can give you specific details on the conditions and hazards existing in the area.

Q: What does it mean when the area around a lifeguard tower is lined with orange cones?
A: The area inside the orange cones is designated as emergency parking for lifeguard vehicles. Every open lifeguard tower and main lifeguard station will have this area set up in case of emergency. For your safety and the safety of others, you should stay outside the cones so that emergency vehicles and personnel can conduct their business efficiently. Consult the nearest lifeguard if you are unsure of where to sit, to ensure that you are situated in a safe place.

Q: Each time I visit the beach, I see red / orange flags posted near open lifeguard towers. What's that about?
A: The flags mark the designated swimming and body-boarding area. There is no surfing allowed between the flags. The lifeguard does his / her best to place the swimming / body boarding area away from rip currents and inshore holes. Depending on the season and activity, you may see the two flags crossed. This serves as a designated point of reference to keep swimmers and surfers separate. Ask the lifeguard which area is best suited for the activity you wish to engage in. Keep in mind that while the lifeguard establishes this area in the safest possible location, hazards may still exist in these areas; always ask the lifeguard about potential hazards.

Q: What types of flotation devices are allowed at the beach?
A: Fiberglass and foam surfboards and body boards are the only acceptable flotation devices on Los Angeles County beaches. Inflatable flotation devices are not allowed in the water.

Q: Can I fish with a spear gun on Los Angeles County beaches?
A: Yes. However, you must fish far away from swimmers. Please note that fishing license regulations apply to spear fishing as well.

Q: Can I launch my jet ski or boat from the beach? Can I bring a craft onto the beach through the surf line?
A: No and no. Any craft that is NOT suitable for common use in the surf (anything other than surfboards, body boards, surf skis and kayaks) must remain at least 300 yards off shore at all times. During times of heavy surf, it may be wise to remain even further off shore. Motorized craft cannot be launched from any Los Angeles County beach, and they must remain outside the 300-yard limit at all times. Boats and jet skis can be launched from facilities with ramps, such as Cabrillo Beach, Redondo Beach and Marina del Rey.

Q: Can I drive my car on the beach?
A: No. Public vehicles of any kind are not allowed on the beach, unless a permit is obtained from the County of Los Angeles, Department of Beaches and Harbors, as part of a special event permit.

Q: Are fireworks allowed on Los Angeles County beaches?
A: No. Fireworks of any kind are not permitted on any beach in Los Angeles County.

Q: Can I drink alcohol on Los Angeles County beaches?
A: The consumption of alcoholic beverages is not allowed on any beach in Los Angeles County. Alcohol impairs one's ability to swim and stay afloat. Please, always remember to swim in front of an open lifeguard tower.

Q: What do I do if I find a seal, dolphin or whale on the beach? Is there something I can do to help it?
A: If you come across any sea creature on the beach, do not touch it or attempt to help it. The best thing you can do is alert the nearest lifeguard about the situation.

Q: Are there sharks in the waters off Los Angeles County Beaches?
A: While ocean water is a shark's natural habitat, the larger, more dangerous varieties rarely make their way close to shore. Sand sharks are often sighted in the shallows; they are harmless to humans.

Q: What do I do if a jellyfish stings me?
A: First of all, try not to touch the site where you came in contact with the jellyfish. Consult the nearest lifeguard and he or she will treat you appropriately. Usually,treating the sting with a mixture of vinegar and water will alleviate the pain.

Q: Why do I hear a beep coming from lifeguard emergency rescue vehicles?
A: Los Angeles County Fire Department Lifeguard Emergency Rescue Vehicles have been specially outfitted with a device called a "go forward" alarm. Lifeguard vehicles traveling on the beach beep in order to warn beach patrons of their presence. If you can hear the sound, please ensure that you are well clear of the vehicle's path.

Email Specific - Employment

Q: What is the cut-off time for the Los Angeles County Ocean Lifeguard Candidate try-out swim?
A: Times vary year by year depending on ocean conditions. In years that there is a large swell or very cold water, times will generally be slower than years with no surf and warm water. For this reason, we take the top finishers by place rather than by time. For a very rough estimate, most of the qualifiers will be across the finish line at or before the 20 minute mark.

Email Specific - JG / WATER

Q: What is the WATER Program?
A: Information on the WATER Youth Programs can be found at http://beaches.co.la.ca.us/BandH/WaterYouth/TextversionFrame.htm
Click here for more info

Employment Opportunities

Q: How do I become a Los Angeles County Fire Department Lifeguard?
A: Lifeguard hopefuls must take a swim test in the ocean, followed by an interview, physical and background check. The Los Angeles County Fire Department Lifeguard Division typically holds the swim test once a year, in the fall.
Click here for more info

General Beach Information

Q: Can I bring my pets to the beach?
A: There are no pet animals allowed on any beach in Los Angeles County. The only exception to this rule is if you have a service dog to assist you with a disability.

Q: Where can I park when I go to the beach?
A: Parking at LA County beaches is managed by the Department of Beaches and Harbors.
Click here for more info

Q: Do you have any beach wheelchairs?
A: Yes. Beach wheelchairs are available at Zuma, Topanga, Will Rogers, Venice, Marina, Dockweiler, Manhattan and Torrance beaches as well as Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. Ask a lifeguard for access to the wheelchairs.
Click here for more info

Q: I lost a personal item at the beach. Is there a lost and found I can look through?
A: Every main station contains a lost and found. Simply return to the location where you think you may have lost your item and go to the nearest lifeguard tower. The lifeguard will be able to tell you if the item has been returned. If the item you lost is metallic, you can hire a professional to come out and sweep the area with a metal detector.

Q: Why is the water turning reddish brown? What is red tide?
A: This condition is called red tide. Red tide is a marine algae bloom caused by a species of dinoflagellates, often present in sufficient numbers to turn the water red or brown. Red tide usually occurs when there is a drastic increase in water temperature.

Q: Why is the water turning green?
A: Algal blooms often occur off Southern California beaches when conditions are favorable for the growth of certain algae species. The organisms that cause these blooms, similar to red tides which most Southern Californians are familiar with, are planktonic (free-floating) organisms called phytoplankton.

Q: What does the yellow flag with a black dot in the center mean?
A: The Los Angeles County Lifeguards call this the black ball flag. You will see this flag posted under the American flag at the lifeguard towers when conditions require it. This flag lets surfers and other beach patrons know that the area around the lifeguard tower is for swimming and body boarding only. The swim area boundaries will be set by crossed orange flags.

Q: Can I barbecue on the beach?
A: On Los Angeles County Beaches, barbecuing is allowed at only three locations: Cabrillo Beach, Dockweiler Beach and Mother's Beach. All fires must be contained in the provided fire rings. Fires must be maintained at a reasonable level. Do not stack palates or other forms of wood higher than the level of the ring. Do not use gasoline or other fuels to intensify the flames. When you leave, simply allow the fire to burn itself out. Do not pour sand, water or any other form of fire retardant on the flames. The fire pits must be vacated by 10:00 pm. Parking facilities at these locations also close at 10:00 pm.

Q: Can I have a camp fire or bonfire on the beach?
A: Fires of any kind on the beach are allowed at only three locations in Los Angeles County: Cabrillo Beach, Dockweiler Beach and Mother's Beach. All fires must be contained in the provided fire rings. Fires must be maintained at a reasonable level. Do not stack palates or other forms of wood higher than the level of the ring. Do not use gasoline or other fuels to intensify the flames. When you are ready to leave, simply allow the fire to burn out. Do not pour sand, water or any other form of fire retardant on the flames. Fire pit areas for barbecuing must be vacated by 10:00 pm. Parking facilities at these locations also close at 10:00 pm.

Q: Is SCUBA diving allowed off Los Angeles County beaches?
A: Yes. The following beaches are recommended for SCUBA diving, due to superior visibility and convenient location: Redondo / Torrance, Palos Verdes Area / Abalone Cove & Royal Palms. Please, always dive with a buddy. It is also a good idea to consult the area's lifeguard and inform him or her of your diving plans.

Q: Is there a beach in Los Angeles County that is recommended as a safe place to learn to surf?
A: While there are some beaches in Los Angeles County that tend to be ideal for beginners, the surfing situations depend on ocean conditions. You should check the weather and surf conditions for the day that you are planning to go out. Upon arriving to the beach, talk to the nearest lifeguard for specific conditions. If you are new to the ocean and surfing, think about taking a certified "learn to surf" class to help you get started.
Click here for more info

Q: Can I sleep or camp on the beach?
A: No. Overnight camping is prohibited on all Los Angeles County beaches. Dockweiler beach does have a facility for RVs to camp at over night or on an extended basis.
Click here for more info

Q: Can I reserve a spot on the beach for my event?
A: Generally the beach is first come, first served unless a permit is obtained. See the following link for more details: http://beaches.co.la.ca.us/bandh/Permits/Main.htm
Click here for more info

Q: What time does the beach close?
A: Ordinances state that there is: 1. No swimming / wading / surfing /body boarding permitted after sundown.
2. No overnight camping. Other than the above rules, the beach does not technically close.

Q: How do I access the beach if I am disabled?
A: The Los Angeles County Fire Department Lifeguard Division has a supply of beach-specific wheel chairs that easily navigate through the sand. An escort is required since the chairs are not powered. To request the use of a chair, visit any of the three Lifeguard Headquarters facilities in Hermosa Beach, Santa Monica and Zuma Beach.

Q: When do the grunion run?
A: These small fish come ashore to lay their eggs at night; check the schedule for the expected grunion runs this year.
Click here for more info

Q: Do I have to purchase a fishing license to fish on the beach or on a pier?
A: A California state fishing license is required to fish in California.
Click here for more info

Q: Is it safe to eat the fish that I catch in Los Angeles County?
A: Many fish from Los Angeles County waters are quite safe to eat. However, the California Department of Fish & Game considers some species harmful if consumed regularly or consumed at all so it is important to check that the fish you plan to eat are safe. The California Department of Fish & Game offers more information of their Web site.
Click here for more info

Q: Do I need a permit to have a party on the beach?
A: Possibly. Those who plan to have a party on the beach need to contact Beaches and Harbors, as permit requirements depend on the number of people attending, as well as numerous other factors.
Click here for more info

Q: Can I windsurf and kite-surf on Los Angeles County beaches?
A: Yes. Cabrillo Beach is a popular beach for kite-surfing and windsurfing since the conditions are optimal for these sports.

Q: Are there any Los Angeles County-operated beaches that I can bring my dog to?
A: No. Dogs are not allowed on any Los Angeles County beaches. The only exception to this regulation is service animals, such as seeing-eye dogs.

Q: Is long-distance swimming allowed on Los Angeles County beaches? How far out am I allowed to swim?
A: Long distance swimming is allowed on L.A. County beaches. However, it is recommended that long distance swimmers go 10 to 15 yards outside the surf line and then swim parallel to shore. Swimmers should never be more than 200 yards off shore. Boats are not allowed more than 300 yards inshore, so as to provide a 100 yard buffer for swimmers' safety. It is always a good idea to consult the nearest lifeguard prior to beginning a long-distance swim.

Q: How can I find out more info about SCUBA diving off of Catalina Island?
A: You can call Catalina SCUBA at 310-510-2616 to learn more about ocean conditions, dive equipment and diving spots.

General Program Questions

Q: How can I get an Announcement or Event posted on this Web site?
A: You can send information about beach-related activities and events by e-mailing us at watchthewater@lacofd.org .

Q: I don't have access to e-mail. Can I mail you information about my event or activity?
A: Sure. Information can also be sent via U.S. Mail to the following address:
Attention: Community Services Captain
Manhattan Beach Training Center
Lifeguard Division
County of Los Angeles Fire Department
2600 The Strand
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

How'd ya do that?!

Q: How do you make those QuickTime VR images?
A: We program our web cameras to take 24 overlapping still images (2 rows of 12) in the span of about 2 minutes. Then we use the custom software we developed to "stitch" the images together.
Click here for more info

Q: Sometimes I see strange or implausible images in your QuickTime VR photographs. What's up with that?!
A: Since the QTVR is a composite of 24 different still images, some interesting things can happen. Consider this image of six beach units parading down Zuma Beach. It's actually only one! Our camera caught it just right as it panned around collecting images!

Junior Lifeguard Program

Q: What is the Junior Lifeguard program? How do I register for it?
A: Information for the Junior Lifeguard program and the registration process is online. The Junior Guard application for new JGs will be available online two weeks prior to each swim test. If you are unable to access the Web site addresses please call (310) 939-7214.
Click here for more info

Q: Uniform Pickup
A: The uniform pickup date for the Summer of 2014 is June 14th at the Dockweiler Bluffs Parking Lot from 9am to 3pm.

Q: How do I become a Junior Lifeguard?
A: Click on our Junior Lifeguard link on the left hand side of the screen. There you will find the necessary information, including program costs, swim time requirements, hours and beach locations.
Click here for more info

Q: How do I become a Los Angeles County Fire Department Junior Lifeguard?
A: All new applicants must submit an application and qualify for the program at one of the swim tryouts in the spring. Because the program demands above-average swimming endurance, each new applicant must pass a 100-yard swimming endurance test. Applicants will also be required to complete an “Underwater Test” before taking the applicable swim test for their age. The Underwater Test will simply require the applicant to dive to the bottom of the pool and retrieve a swim ring. Maximum pool depth will be 7’ or less. A new applicant is defined as a student that did not participate in or successfully complete the program the prior year. (If a student participated in the program two years prior, but not the prior year, he or she is considered a new applicant and must take and pass the swim test again.)
Click here for more info

Q: How do I become a Cadet?
A: Cadet hopefuls must pass a swim test, and complete an interview process. Call (310) 939-7214 for more information, or click on the following link.
Click here for more info

Safety Preparedness - Tsunami

Q: What are tsunamis?
A: A tsunami (pronounced soo-NAH-mee) is a series of traveling ocean waves with an extremely long length, generated primarily by earthquakes that disrupt the ocean floor, or earthquakes that trigger large underwater landslides. Oceanic volcanoes and even meteorite impact can also cause tsunamis, although these are rarer but equally dangerous.
Click here for more info

Q: What are the Potential Tsunami Inundation Zones?
A: In most coastal areas of Los Angeles County, it’s only necessary to move several blocks inland from the beaches. This is because most of our beaches are upward-sloping, with significant elevation changes further inland from old sand dunes, and coastal cliffs and hills. Tsunamis can be amplified by bays, harbors, lagoons, or rivers and flood control channels, which can funnel the water and send it further inland. In places where the ground is flat (and especially where amplification can occur from bays, harbors, lagoons, and rivers), it’s necessary to move further inland to escape the potential tsunami inundation zone. Examples are Venice, Marina Del Rey, Play Del Rey, Redondo Beach Harbor, Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors, and the flat areas of Long Beach south toward Seal Beach. In these places, people (especially those with trouble moving due to injuries, the elderly, etc) may be better off conducting “vertical evacuation” into upper floors of high rise buildings, apartment complexes, and hotels, when there is a potential NEAR-SOURCE TSUNAMI event. Tsunami Inundation Area maps based on calculations for “worst case scenarios” have been produced for our coastlines by USC in cooperation with the California Office of Emergency Services and FEMA; and they will be distributed to the public in the near future.
Click here for more info

Q: What is being done to prepare for tsunami emergencies?
A: Remember, THE BEST WAY TO SURVIVE A TUSNAMI IS TO EVACUATE TO A SAFE LOCATION BEFORE IT STRIKES. Under direction from the Board of Supervisors, the County of Los Angeles Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is finalizing the countywide Tsunami Plan, which includes Tsunami Evacuation Plans for all the incorporated cities and the unincorporated areas along our coast. A County Tsunami Task Force is working to complete the Tsunami Plan and the related public education programs and emergency response protocols. Tsunami Evacuation Plans are being developed along the coast, with Evacuation Route signs to be posted on the beaches, on the streets, in telephone books, and other prominent locations. A public education program is being developed for schools and institutions, and for the general population of the coastal zones. Evacuation shelters are being planned to shelter and feed people displaced during tsunami warnings or after actual tsunami impacts. Other forms of warning for the public are being investigated, with funds being requested to support these efforts.
Click here for more info

Q: What is the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s plan for tsunamis?
A: The Los Angeles County Fire Department is finalizing its Tsunami Plan to support the warning and evacuation of threatened populations, to strategically locate fire department and Lifeguard Division units in advance of tsunamis, to conduct search and rescue, firefighting, emergency medical, and haz mat operations in the immediate aftermath of large coastal earthquakes that might trigger near-source tsunamis. And your Los Angeles County Fire Department is implementing it plan to respond immediately in the aftermath of an actual tsunami impact, including conducting simultaneous air/land/sea search and rescue operations to locate and save victims unable to escape the waves, treat them for injuries, and transport them to hospitals using helicopters, boats, ambulances, and other means.
Click here for more info

Q: What are Tsunami Bulletins, Watches, and Warnings?
A: Tsunami Information Bulletin : Message issued by the West Coast Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (WCATWC) to advise public safety agencies of the occurrence of a major earthquake in the Pacific or near-Pacific area, with the evaluation that a potentially destructive Pacific-wide tsunami was not generated. Tsunami Warning Bulletin : Warning message issued throughout the Pacific based on confirmation that a tsunami has been generated that poses a threat to the population in part or all of the Pacific coast regions. A Tsunami Warning will be followed by additional bulletins with updated information until it is cancelled. Regional Tsunami Warning/Watch Bulletin: Message issued initially by West Coast Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (WCATWC) based only on seismic information to alert all participants of the possibility of a tsunami and advise them that a tsunami investigation is underway. Those areas that are within 0 to 3 hours from the estimated time of arrival of the first wave are placed in a Tsunami Warning status. Those areas within 3 to 6 hours are placed in a Tsunami Watch status. It will be followed by additional bulletins until it is either upgraded to a Pacific-wide Tsunami Warning or until it is cancelled.
Click here for more info

Q: What can I do to prepare for tsunami emergencies?
A: Be aware of the tsunami dangers, and have a personal plan if you live, work in, or visit potential tsunami inundation zones. Share this knowledge with your family, friends, and neighbors. Be aware of the local tsunami warning systems, as well as the signs of impending tsunami arrival. If you work in a tsunami-prone area, have a workplace evacuation plan that includes leaving the area in the event of a tsunami emergency.
Click here for more info

Site Use Issues

Q: Can I post images from your camera feed on my Web site?
A: Please e-mail watchthewater@fire.lacounty.gov with your specific request. We usually allow other Web sites to use our images as long as you give us credit by clearly citing on or near the image where the image came from.

Q: Can you please clean the camera?
A: Occasionally the ocean breeze picks up, leaving salt and debris on the housings of our Web cameras faster than our periodic cleanings and maintenance schedules can keep pace with. Please understand if from time to time the view gets a little salty--and check back soon for updates and cleaner cameras.

Q: How do stop images from caching on my windows XP machine running Netscape?
A: Under the Edit menu, select Preferences. Now expand the Advanced tab and look for the word "Cache" and click once on it. Look for something that says, "Compare the page in the cache on the network: " and there will be three choices, "Once per session," "Every time I view the page," and "Never." Choose "Every time I view the page."

Q: The images on the webpage appear to be old, but the time stamp indicates that it was just updated. What's going on?
A: Your browser may be set to "cache" images. This is when there is a new image on our server, but your browser is saving or "caching" an older copy.

We work hard to ensure that www.watchthewater.org contains the most accurate and specific information on Los Angeles County beaches. To take full advantage of this, make sure your browser is not caching images. Check your browser settings.

For example, if you are using Internet Explorer Version 6 on Windows XP, you would go to the Tools menu, select "Internet Options." Then, under the "General" tab, in the "Temporary Internet files" panel, click on the "Settings..." button. You will see four options under "Check for newer versions of stored pages:" Select the one that says "Every visit to the page."

For other browser versions, or any questions about this, contact our technical support department via the Contact Us Link.

Q: Why do you sometimes have two different values for surf height?
A: We get swell Nowcasting data from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography that is updated hourly around the clock. Additionally, during daylight hours, our lifeguards make observations and report wave height and quality and the data is sent to this Web site. The reports are updated every four hours.

The difference between the values is normal. One is based on a scientific model of what the surf is "supposed" to be and is updated hourly, the other is a subjective observation and is updated approximately every four hours.
Click here for more info

Q: What is the UV Index?
A: The UV Index provides a daily forecast for the expected risk of overexposure to the sun. The Index predicts UV intensity levels on a scale of 0 to 10+, where 0 indicates a minimal risk of overexposure and 10+ means a very high risk.
Click here for more info

Q: What is QuickTime VR?
A: QuickTime VR is a specially designed format that displays "spherical" photographs. (VR stands for virtual reality.) The format produces a still photograph that gives you a 360° view of an area.
Click here for more info

Q: Where can I get QuickTime?
A: Go to www.apple.com/quicktime for a free download of the program.
Click here for more info

Q: How often are the QuickTime VRs updated?
A: Generally the QTVRs are updated every 30 minutes. The primary function of the Web cameras is public safety, so on occasion, updates may be delayed due to conflicts with other uses of the Web camera. Lifeguards frequently use the Web cameras to check for activity and make staffing decisions, or to help direct resources to the scene of rescue operations.

Q: I sometimes see gray splotches on the images from your cameras. What's that all about?
A: Our program's Privacy Assurance and Acceptable Use Policy forbids us from photographing areas where the public has a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as in homes, or inside public restrooms, etc. Our cameras have a feature called "privacy zones." These allow us to set areas that cannot be viewed from the cameras.

For more information on our Privacy Assurance and Acceptable Use Policy, please click here.

Q: What are the black bars on the very top of some of your images, as seen on the QuickTime VR panoramic still photographs?
A: Our dome cameras cannot tilt above the horizon. What you see is the upper limit of their point of view; it usually includes part of the camera housing.


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