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Beach Safety Week to raise awareness over risks of ocean

The Maui News

Gov. David Ige has proclaimed Sunday through Aug. 28 as Hawaii Beach Safety Week, with events planned across the state.

The Kahului Airport will have a presentation on Tuesday with tips on public rescue tubes used by Maui County Ocean Safety. For more information, contact Chief Jeff Giesea at (808) 463-3850.

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

From 2015-2019, Hawaii averaged 80 deaths per year from ocean drowning. Visitors comprised a slight majority at 45 deaths, or 57 percent, according to a news release. The annual total fell to 52 fatal ocean drownings, including 15 visitors, after Hawaii shut down in 2020 due to COVID-19.

As of June, there have been 27 fatal ocean drownings. On average, one visitor dies by drowning every week in Hawaii. 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 Hawaii; 83 percent were visitors.

The Hawaii Drowning and Aquatic Injury Prevention Advisory Committee is coordinated by the Department of Health, 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 advisory committee or drowning prevention efforts statewide, contact Bridget Velasco at bridget.velasco@doh.hawaii.gov.

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