State DOH launches ocean safety website

The Maui News

A new ocean safety website aims to reduce drownings, one of the main causes of death in Hawaii.

The website, hioceansafety.com, teaches beachgoers about the risks of strong currents and shore breaks, offers safety tips while at the beach and provides a list of lifeguarded beaches. It also features a “know your limits” checklist to raise awareness about beachgoers’ health and fitness conditions before they enter the ocean.

The state Department of Health’s Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention System Branch launched the website in collaboration with the Hawaii Drowning and Aquatic Injury Prevention Advisory Committee, which was created in 2015 to study drowning and water-related injury prevention in Hawaii.

Ocean drowning is the fourth leading cause of injury-related death in Hawaii, and by far the leading cause for visitors, with snorkeling the activity most frequently associated with visitor drowning, the Department of Health said. Visitors make up more than half of ocean drowning victims (55 percent) and suffer 81 percent of ocean-related spinal cord injuries. And, the trend of visitor drownings is on the rise.

“People who visit Hawaii may not realize that even small waves at our beaches can be strong enough to cause serious injury and even death,” committee co-chairman Gerald Kosaki said. “Knowing what beaches to avoid and how to react when a wave is breaking on shore is critical.”

For more information, contact Bridget Velasco, drowning prevention coordinator at the EMS and Injury Prevention System Branch, at 733-9209 or at bridget.velasco@doh.hawaii.gov.

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