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Beach safety week activities this week

HONOLULU — Gov. David Ige has proclaimed Aug. 22 to 28 Hawai‘i Beach Safety Week.

On Kaua‘i this Friday, Aug. 27, there will be rescue craft and response operations training with the Kaua‘i Fire Department and its Ocean Safety Bureau. Contact OSB Supervisor Kalani Vierra at 808-241-4964 for details.

Due to COVID-19, the annual Ocean Safety Conference and Jr. Lifeguard Championships have been canceled.

According to the state Department of Health, ocean drowning is the leading cause of fatal injuries for Hawai‘i visitors and the sixth leading cause for residents.

From 2015-2019, Hawai‘i averaged 80 deaths per year from ocean drowning. Visitors comprised a slight majority (57%, 45 deaths).

The annual total fell to 52 after Hawai‘i shut down in 2020 due to COVID-19. That included 15 visitors. As of June 2021, there have been 27 fatal ocean drownings. On average, one visitor dies by drowning every week in Hawai‘i. More visitors drowned while snorkeling than nearly all other ocean activities combined. Ocean-related activities are the second-most-common cause of spinal-cord injuries in Hawai‘i. Most occur in visitors (83%).

This year, the Drowning and Aquatic Injury Prevention Advisory Committee collaborated with the annual Duke’s Oceanfest, which celebrates Duke Kahanamoku’s life of excellence.

The Olympian once used his surfboard to help rescue victims of a capsized ship in Newport Beach, Calif. This led to lifeguards across the United States using surfboards as standard equipment for water rescues.

“With the return of visitors and more residents going to the beach, lifeguards and ocean-safety professionals have never been more relevant,” said John Titchen, chief of Ocean Safety for the City &County of Honolulu and Drowning Advisory Committee member.

“On all islands, lifeguards are needed more than ever. From swimmers to surfers to stand-up paddlers to kayakers to foilers to fishers to bodysurfers, and everything in between, it’s busy out there,” he said.

The Hawai‘i Drowning and Aquatic Injury Prevention Advisory Committee is coordinated by the DOH Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention System Branch. The committee brings together organizations from all four counties as well as state and nonprofit groups.

For more information on the committee or drowning prevention efforts statewide, contact Bridget Velasco at
Source: The Garden Island

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