Q: What steps should I take in case my child is lost at the beach or Santa Monica Pier?

A: Before leaving home to go anywhere with your child, here are some steps you could take to help in the unfortunate event he/she becomes lost:

• Know the physical description of your child, age, height, weight, hair and eye color, and a detailed description of their clothing. Even better, like the saying goes, “A picture says a thousand words.” If you have a cellular phone with a camera feature, or are taking a camera with you, take a photo of your child in the clothes he will be wearing on your trip so you can show it to the people who will be searching. If your child is not located within a reasonable time, we can use the photo to make flyers if necessary.

• Make sure your child has contact information for you or a responsible relative or friend. If your child is too young to memorize cellular phone numbers, provide them with a note/I.D. card, and have them keep it in their pocket. The note should include their name, parents’ names, date of birth, address, vehicle description (including license plate) and several phone numbers where a guardian can be reached.

• Show them a specific location where they should go if they are lost, such as a lifeguard tower (show them the number painted on the back), specific business, or public safety facility.

If your child does become lost, and you cannot find him within close proximity to you, don’t try searching everywhere by yourself. Call 9-1-1 or our communications center at (310) 458-8491 and police will be dispatched to your location (stay where you last saw your child). A lost child is not taken lightly, so we need to know exactly who we’re looking for, and what they look like.

We hope you never have to experience a lost child, but if you do, be prepared!

Q: During summer months, I see an influx of vendors selling fruit, body boards, inflatable objects, and other items on the beach. Is this legal?

A: No, it is not. Currently the city of Santa Monica does not allow the vending of these products on the beach. Thus, permits are not issued for such activity, and the subjects you see vending these items are doing so illegally. Santa Monica Municipal Code 6.36.020 defines vending as: to sell, offer for sale, expose for sale, solicit offers to purchase, or to barter food, goods, merchandise, or services in any public area from a stand, pushcart, motor vehicle, or by a person with or without the use of any other device or other method of transportation. To require someone to pay a fee or to set, negotiate, or establish a fee before providing goods or services constitutes vending. Requests for donations in exchange for merchandise also constitute vending.

Although the food products which are sold “may” be safe, there is no current method for the Los Angeles County Health Department to keep track of the vendors, nor the procedure in which the food items are prepared and cared for prior to being transported, and while in transit to the consumer. Some food items require a temperature range in which they must be kept in order to be safe from bacteria. Many of the items you see are carried in plastic containers merely with a wet towel placed on top. Also, there are no facilities in place for sanitizing hands and other utensils which may be required between the handling of money and other unsanitary items while on the beach.

All inflatable objects such as rafts and tubes are not only illegal to sell, they are illegal to use at all Los Angeles County beaches, unless approved by the U.S. Coast Guard (17.12.460 LACMC). Beachgoers who use inflatable rafts or tubes are in the water with a false sense of safety. If you cannot swim, or are not a good swimmer, your safety is at risk if the inflatable is punctured or deflated.

Although foam body boards are legal to use at the beach, it is not the preferred type of body board for novice swimmers use. According to Los Angeles County Lifeguards Headquarters Capt. Tom Seth, the preferred type of body board is one made of quality core materials such as Polypropylene. Ask your local surf shop representative to show you the different quality materials available to you. Boards made of this material are more expensive, but they do not break apart during normal use while riding the waves or surf.

As tempting as it may be, please refrain from encouraging the sales of potentially unsafe foods and/or goods.

This column was prepared by Neighborhood Resource Officer Richard Carranza (Beat 1: coastal zone). He can be reached at (424) 200-0681 or richard.carranza@smgov.net.

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