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Mar 26th, 2013, 10:27 AM
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Visitor ocean awareness Kauai/statewide

New legislative effort to pre warn visitors about ocean hazards.


LIHU‘E — A Senate Concurrent Resolution introduced March 13 is requesting the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority work with airline companies to show ocean-safety videos on all Hawai‘i-bound flights.

While the idea is not new, Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau Executive Director Sue Kanoho said the resolution is “a move in the right direction.”

“I’m not sure how they are going to do it, but we support the message,” she said. “We tried to do that in the past and it’s been a difficult nut to crack.”

Senate Vice President Ron Kouchi was among those who introduced SCR 143, which was referred March 19 to two Senate committees — Tourism and Hawaiian Affairs and Transportation and International Affairs.

Kouchi said beach-safety videos were previously shown on Hawaiian Airlines flights and that the resolution would provide “an opportunity to reach (visitors) before they get here.”

“(In) as many different ways as we can, we need to make every effort,” he said of educating visitors about Hawai‘i’s dangerous ocean conditions.

The resolution specifically mentions Kaua‘i, where waters have claimed the lives of 10 individuals — seven of them visitors — so far this year. In 2012, Kaua‘i recorded four drownings, two ocean and two freshwater.

“2013’s pace is relatively high for Hawai‘i, which usually sees approximately 60 to 70 accidental deaths among nonresidents a year,” the resolution states. “The high number of deaths in the beginning of 2013 follows an increase in visitor fatalities in recent years — something officials say is likely due to several factors, including tourists searching out remote areas to explore or overestimating their swimming abilities in unfamiliar ocean currents.”

The resolution recognizes airlines as “key players” in the Hawai‘i visitor experience, which could help share the important message of ocean safety with millions of visitors who arrive here annually.

Former lifeguard Pat Durkin, who heads up the Water Awareness Visitor Education program, said that although the resolution addresses the importance of drowning prevention, he remains skeptical that the video’s content will be strong enough.

“What kind of teeth are you going to be able to put in (the video)? … When you’ve gone through what we’ve gone through in the last two months, I want to put skull and crossbones at every beach,” he said.

Durkin also questions how many people actually pay attention to in-flight monitors nowadays, with so many electronic gadgets as distractions.

“I haven’t looked at an airplane monitor in a couple years,” he said. “I have an iPad.”

Despite his concerns, Durkin said he is happy to see the problem being recognized by the Legislature.

“We’ll just have to see what comes out of it,” he said.

If passed, Kanoho agreed that she would like to see the video portray a stronger message than what was shown on Hawaiian Airlines beginning in 2005, perhaps with before-and-after photos of dangerous areas — such as Lumaha‘i — during high surf.

“I’m all for making sure the message is impactful and hopefully it will plant the seed for ‘Know before you go,’” she said.

While she agrees that an in-flight video would bring additional awareness to the situation, Kanoho said it is important that visitors educate themselves on current conditions before venturing out.

“It’s kind of on the visitor to know and not just assume … If you understand the conditions, you know the risk.”

A date has not been set for a committee hearing on SCR 143.

Tags
Hawaiian Airlines, Hawaii, Ron Kouchi, Sue Kanoho, Pat Durkin, Kauai
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kauaistyle is offline  
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Mar 26th, 2013, 11:41 AM
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Thanks, this is a great idea. Maybe they could show the video right before the movie starts? Lots of people do watch the movies although is it Hawaiian or Alaska that has those individual Digiplayers - not sure how that would work, since the passenger would control what they watch.
jamie99 is offline  
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Mar 26th, 2013, 05:10 PM
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IF they include info on not touching and damaging reefs, not feeding or collecting fish, not taking souvenirs, etc., that would be fine. Maybe also a few lines about how covering up in and out of the water is better than lathering on toxic sunscreen just before you jump into the water?
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Mar 26th, 2013, 05:57 PM
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Concentrate on the main message: Ocean Safety, such as: Check ahead on the local conditions, use common sense, don't wonder too far along the rocks by the ocean, etc etc etc.
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Mar 26th, 2013, 06:42 PM
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exactly..stay on topic to save lives. Tight, adamant, to the point. Was part of dialogue with city council members on what to "say". ongoing...
kauaistyle is offline  
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Mar 27th, 2013, 01:37 PM
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I know my limitations and had no desire to go into the ocean while on Kauai, there were just too many warning about heavy surf and rip tides. I am not a strong swimmer so I pretty much always confined my swimming to Waikiki, Haunama Bay, and some areas on the Big Island, very calm and protected from the open ocean.

I had no idea how many fatal incidents have happened in recent years.
crefloors is offline  
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Mar 27th, 2013, 01:39 PM
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Not to seem unfeeling about the 7+ billion humans on the planet, but the world-wide decimation of reefs, a lot caused by ignorant idiots standing, jumping, harvesting, whatever, on them seems just as important to me.
sylvia3 is offline  
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Mar 27th, 2013, 03:31 PM
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There are plenty of places on Kauai where it's safe to swim, much of the time, and many the tricky places are fine a fair amount of the time.

It all depends on the current condition (eg - time of year, big surf, strong rip tides) and that's what people need to check. Actually - Ke'e beach even has a lifeguard, righto? - who should be able to give you good advice about there and nearby Tunnels.

sylvia. You can only provide so much info in a short time or you turn people off. Ocean conservation is important - but this thread is about ocean safety

Maybe they could work in something at the end of the short video about respecting the reefs, etc - but the main message should be about safety - at least - IMO.
Tomsd is offline  
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Mar 27th, 2013, 06:17 PM
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This thread is titled "Visitor Ocean Awareness"; in my opinion, telling visitors not to damage coral or pollute the ocean is easily done(20 seconds), along with the obvious "don't be a moron and think the ocean is Disneyland" lecture.
sylvia3 is offline  
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Mar 27th, 2013, 07:11 PM
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I think a video about ocean safety is a great idea and like some have mentioned, including a short part about reef protection would be important as well.

I wonder if all the Hawaiian Islands could staff more beaches with lifeguards - especially the popular spots. My daughter and I swam at Tunnels and I was very surprised that such a popular spot didn't have a city lifeguard.

It is important to remember that many tourists to Hawaii are not morons or idiots - many simply have never been in the ocean before, are poor swimmers, and know nothing about the ocean so rather than belittle them it is better to empower them with education & information.
nanabee is offline  
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Mar 28th, 2013, 07:00 AM
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It's not even that they've never been in the ocean before. They may have grown up on an east coast beach, but they will *never* have seen waves such as can occur in HI. I know I haven't, and I've lived a couple blocks from the beach in Long Beach, in Virginia Beach, in St Pete, and have visited many many more beach destinations around the Caribbean and New England coast, but I've never seen waves like we saw in Maui.
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May 23rd, 2013, 11:14 PM
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Hawaii has the highest drowning rate in the nation. So here's five important tips to keep you and your family safe:

1. Always study the currents and waves before you go out in the water. Notice where the rip currents are and where submerged rocks are.

2. The waves in Hawaii vary in size. Several sets of 2-foot waves can be followed by a sudden 6-foot set of waves. So don't assume all waves are alike.

3. Never turn your back to the ocean. When anywhere near the water, always watch the ocean to see what's coming in.

4. Don't assume the waves are easy to deal with just because you see Hawaiian kids body-surfing or swimming in them. Remember, they were raised on these waves. You weren't.

5. When in doubt, don't go out.

Have a safe vacation!
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