New Evacuation Alert System Now Available at Torrance Beach
Beach Emergency Evacuation Lights System increases beach accessibility for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
TORRANCE, California—LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn, local officials and members of Los Angeles County’s deaf and hard of hearing communities celebrated the launch of the Beach Emergency Evacuation Lights System (BEELS) on Friday.
Originally conceived by Department of Beaches and Harbors (DBH) Safety Officer Randy Dean and developed with input from the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness (GLAD), BEELS is the first beach evacuation warning system worldwide to incorporate flashing lights specifically designed to alert people who are deaf or hard of hearing to an evacuation.
“Our beaches belong to everyone and they have to be safe and accessible for everyone,” said LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn. “So much of our emergency technology ignores the needs of our deaf and hard of hearing residents. This simple update to our evacuation alert system could not only save lives—it sends a powerful message to the deaf community that the County is working to serve them and cares about inclusion.”
“GLAD is honored to collaborate on this exciting and long overdue project to improve communication access for our deaf and hard of hearing beachgoers,” said GLAD Director of Human Services Renee Thomas. “We have never had this access until BEELS, and we are thrilled to see this happening.”
In addition to flashing lights for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, BEELS features announcements in English and Spanish that indicate the type of emergency and whether it is a water-only or full beach evacuation. The audio also includes a siren to warn people who may not understand either language.
“BEELS is another example of how when we expand access with one group in mind, we end up providing a benefit for all,” DBH Director Gary Jones said. “It also shows how one person—in this case, our own Randy Dean—can make a difference and accomplish something that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.”
BEELS’ lights and speakers are mounted on two lifeguard towers, the permanent lifeguard and restroom building, and the restroom building on the north end of Torrance Beach. During tests, the lights could be seen from more than a quarter of a mile away, and the audio measured 109 decibels at the water in front of the lifeguard building.
Once the pilot project at Torrance Beach has finished, DBH plans to expand the system to cover beaches along the LA County coast.