LIHU’E — Kane Pa and Keohokui A. Kauihana have developed a proposal they say
will curb drowning off Kaua’i waters – teaching visitors how to avoid
dangerous water conditions before they go to the beaches.
The program would
be particularly helpful to tourists since many aren’t familiar with dangerous
water conditions here.
Through a classroom setting at the beach, Kauihana
said he would instruct visitors on how to identify dangerous rip currents and
to escape safely if caught in them.
“The danger becomes less of a danger
when you realize just how dangerous it is,” Kauihana said.
he is fine-tuning the plan and hopes to implement it one day. The proposal was
initially designed for use by youths and has been successful, he said.
Using what they learned from water safety, three Anahola youths in January 1998
saved the lives of two California residents who got caught in rip currents in
Anahola Bay, Kauihana said.
Visitors, Kauihana and Pa said, can protect
themselves from being victims of drowning by taking these precautions:
Before going into the water, throw a branch in the water and see where it goes.
If the branch doesn’t move or moves slowly, it’s probably safe to swim in that
* If you get caught in a rip current, don’t fight it.
get caught in the current, you need to stop and feel where the water is pulling
you,” Pa said. “The mistake tourists make is that they panic and try to swim
to shore. They usually become tired. Some don’t make it back to shore and
* Ride out the rip current until it dissipates at sea, and then
swim to shore. Rip currents can span 10 to 40 feet in width and 100 yards in
* Be wary of beaches that are buffeted by trade winds.
winds create swells, which add to the size and strength of rip currents.
* Don’t swim by the mouth of a river that empties in a bay. The current can
take you out to sea.
* Ask surfers how safe the water is before going
* Ask businesses that rent activity equipment where the safest beaches
* Go to beaches with lifeguards.
The most dangerous beaches
are located on the North Shore, in East Kaua’i and at Polihale Beach, Pa and
Kealia Bay is dangerous because it has high waves, rip
currents and fresh water currents that flow from the Kealia River into the
Rip currents are treacherous in Hanalei Bay because they roll
unobstructed over sand dunes, according to Kaua’i County lifeguard Eugene
Kauihana said 20 youths were taught the basics of water safety
and first aid during a Junior Lifeguard Class held in Anahola Bay in December
A month after going through the course, the three youths saved the
The program was implemented with the help of the
county’s Parks and Recreation Division, Coalition for a Drug Free Hawai’i,
American Red Cross and the Anahola Ocean Recreation program.
Recreation, supported by the Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center, is a
nonprofit group whose focus is to promote ocean awareness and water safety. The
classes were led by Orlando Anaya, a water safety specialist, and Kauihana, a
one-time lifeguard with the City and County of Honolulu.
Kauihana, who is
president and coordinator of the Anahola Ocean Recreation, said the group
continued to offer water safety classes, a boogie board contest and other
activities in 1998 and 1999. Through the program, youths also have been taught
the value of protecting marine animals and their marine environment, Kauihana
The program has reinforced the aloha spirit for youths to help
others, particularly for those who get in trouble in the water, he
“In the old days, they watch them get in worst trouble,” Kauihana
said. “Now, I taught them how to react.”