New Deaf-Accessible Evacuation Warning System Coming to Torrance Beach
Los Angeles, CA — Supervisor Hahn and her colleagues on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have approved a plan to install and pilot a new emergency warning system designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals at Torrance Beach.
In the event of a tsunami, shark-sighting, or lightning storm that may force the evacuation of a beach, LA County lifeguards rely on bullhorns to get swimmers out of the water, which means individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may not be alerted to danger. The proposed pilot program will use the Beach Emergency Evacuation Light System, or BEELS, that uses a system of flashing strobe lights in addition to multi-lingual audible warnings.
“Our LA County beaches are some of the most beautiful and popular in the world and it is our responsibility to make sure they are safe and accessible to anyone and everyone,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “This innovative system not only includes flashing lights to better alert deaf and hard-of-hearing beachgoers, it also includes multi-lingual audible warnings to make evacuation alerts more effective for everyone.”
BEELS is the brainchild of LA County Beaches and Harbors Safety Officer Randy Dean. He has two adult children who are hard-of-hearing and made it his mission to design an evacuation alert system that would better alert the deaf community.
"This first-of-its-kind emergency alert system will make the beach safer for everyone,” said Gary Jones, Director of the Department of Beaches and Harbors. “We are proud of our Department Safety Officer, Randy Dean, for spearheading the development of this system. Randy has shown that one person can make a difference."
The Board of Supervisors approved piloting BEELS at Torrance Beach at a cost of no more than $300,000. The County’s Department of Beaches and Harbors plans to have the system in place before summer and will test the program’s effectiveness. The Department knows of no other system like this in the world. It is innovative and could be replicated at beaches around the globe.
“It is my hope that if this pilot program goes well we will be able to implement this technology at every one of our 20 LA County beaches,” said Supervisor Hahn.
Footage of test run done earlier this year available here.