Video warns visitors of dangers

LIHU‘E — With the recent drownings on the Eastside still fresh in the minds of many, the Friday unveiling of a water safety video was a welcome addition to the Lihu’e Airport baggage area.

“This is historic,” said Kalani Vierra, the head of the Kaua‘i Ocean Safety Bureau. “I think we’re the only place in the state where visitors will be greeted by a water safety video,” Vierra said.

On Friday afternoon, many were on hand as the six-minute video was unveiled at the Lihu‘e Airport baggage claim, coinciding with the arrival of a flight from the Mainland.

Vierra said he’s been trying for years to have some sort of water safety video available either at the airport, or on incoming planes from the Mainland so visitors would be aware of the dangers that lurk in the ocean waters.

As the several hundred passengers crowded the baggage carousel, the video unfolded with local videographer Bruce Smalling keeping his camera rolling.

Smalling was the major contributor of video footage for the water safety project and said, “It’s a work in progress. As things change, we can make adjustments in the presentation.”

Working through his regular projects, Smalling said the water safety video took about “a loose three months to produce.”

“On the day we were supposed to do the interviews with Kalani, there was a drowning incident at Queen’s Bath,” Smalling recollected.

By juggling schedules and making adjustments through cell phones, Smalling and Vierra connected at Queen’s Bath.

Water Safety Week starts tomorrow, and the debut of the video was planned to coincide with the awareness week. The theme of this year’s observance is “Swim Near A Lifeguard.”

Wade Lord of the Rotary Club of Kapa‘a said the water safety video was made possible by proceeds generated by their “Taste of Hawai‘i” held last year.

This year’s event will happen June 4 at Smith’s Tropical Paradise.

As for the water safety video, “It’s all worth it,” Vierra said. “If it saves even one life, it’s all worth it.”

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) and dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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