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San Diegans flock to beach on Labor Day to escape heat

The heat wave continues to sear San Diego County and some residents are finding relief at the beach, that’s where we sent KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado for details.

San Diegans hit the beach for the unofficial last day of summer to try and cool off from the extreme heat wave that continues to bake Southern California. That's a traditional way to celebrate, but with the hotter-than-average temperatures, it's also one of the few bearable locations in the county.

And while some can handle the heat better than others, even at the beach it's been hotter than usual.

"I do party rentals and stuff so we’ve been working in the heat sweating like you wouldn’t believe. It’s alright, it’ll be over in a week or so. Betty, she loves the heat," San Diegan Paul Falkner said while holding his pet snake named Betty Rubble.

"We were sitting outside, and it was still kind of cool, and the wind was blowing. And then (we) kind of started to feel the heat, and she’s like, 'Let’s go to the beach!" said Darren Vaught from Spring Valley.

Elaine quickly said that she did not want to sit at home, because it would probably reach triple digit temperatures where they live — if not close to it just like it has for the past several days. She said it's been unbearable because they've been trying to observe the flex alerts so there aren't power outages.

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Mike Damron
A lifeguard on duty watches over the crowds in Mission Beach, CA on September 5, 2022.

"It's like a 20 degree difference. It's cooler here, there it's really hot," she said and later added that after the beach, they were headed to the mall.

Others make the yearly pilgrimage to California from even hotter places to escape their heat. The Smith family from Arizona said temperatures were high in Anaheim while visiting Disneyland, so a day at Mission Beach did bring relief.

"Yesterday in Anaheim, it hit 108 in the morning, which was about as hot as it is in Phoenix right now," Jeff Smith said. "That’s not what we were expecting coming to California but glad it’s a little cooler today, and being on the beach here felt a little bit nicer."

Marine Safety Lt. Ric Stell, with the San Diego Lifeguard Service, said this heat wave coinciding with the holiday weekend is keeping the beaches packed and the lifeguards busy.

"Labor Day weekend for lifeguards has been extremely busy, due to the heat and the warm water conditions. We’ve seen extreme crowds almost like Fourth of July weekend," he said.

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Mike Damron
A surfboard leans against a "stay clear" sign on Mission Beach, CA on September 5, 2022.

Stell said they did not have a shortage of lifeguards and every spot was filled on the beach.

"We’ve had a large amount of rescues ... it’s just because the traffic here has increased as well," he said.

Stell urges anyone headed to the beach to be extra vigilant with their children, to swim within their ability and to stay hydrated. He said lifeguards are available in case the public have any questions.

The excessive heat warning has been extended through most of the week.

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