Hawaii Beach Safety Week followed by Tropic Care

Our County

This week is Hawaii Beach Safety Week across the state, and a good reminder to thank your local lifeguards the next time you see them.

How important are they? Well, according to a Centers for Disease Control study on drowning prevention, it found that the chances of drowning at a beach protected by lifeguards is less than 1 in 18 million. Impressive statistic.

Not surprisingly, the study concluded that most drownings occurred at beaches that were unguarded. However, it also acknowledged “real-world issues of budgets and legal liability” prevent Maui County and most other municipalities from putting a lifeguard tower at every beach.

And although the statistics clearly show that it is our visitors who get into the most trouble in the water, they also show that locals should be cautious as well. Another study by the state Department of Health shows that drownings also occur while local residents are surfing, free diving, fishing and even picking opihi.

So, be cautious out there in the water and remember that no matter how at home you feel in the ocean, you can still get into trouble very quickly.

In other news, my office has been getting a lot of calls about Tropic Care. Tropic Care, for those who haven’t heard yet, is a program that offers no-cost dental, medical and vision health care services to the community and will be held in various locations around Maui County from Aug. 11 to 19.

Some of the questions include:

Q: Will Tropic Care give me free health insurance?

A: No. Tropic Care offers health care services and once they are gone, so is the opportunity to take advantage of these no-cost services.

Q: If I need a doctor’s note or something else signed, will these forms be offered at Tropic Care?

A: No. If you have forms or records that need to be signed by Tropic Care medical personnel you need to bring those forms yourself.

Q: I heard MEO is involved and helping out with transportation. How do I sign up for this?

A: Unless you are already signed up and registered for MEO transportation services — through Kaunoa Senior Center for example — then you will not be able to use MEO. However, people should note that one of the clinics is at the University of Hawaii Maui College, which is right across from Maui Bus’ main hub at Queen Ka’ahumanu Center.

Q: I am a professional in the health care industry and would like to help.

A: Although the trained members of the military will be doing all of the medical, dental and vision care work needed, we still need volunteers in other support capacities at all of the Tropic Care clinics. To sign up, go to the Tropic Care Maui webpage on the Maui County website and scroll down to the “volunteer sign-up” link. We still need many more people to volunteer so please help if you can.

Finally, don’t forget to vote in the primary election on Aug. 11.

* “Our County,” a column from Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, is about county issues and activities of county government. The column usually appears on the first and third Fridays of the month.