Letters for Thursday, October 16, 2008

• What can I do about the recent drownings?

• Heed the warnings

• Varroa mite emergency

What can I do about the recent drownings?

It saddened me to hear of four drownings in two days of high surf on Kaua‘i’s North Shore and Eastside. As a lifeguard instructor, I’d like to offer some help free of charge.

First of all, inform visitors it’s not a good idea to be near the high surf at all, or swimming in it.

If someone is caught in a current going out, the thing that kills is panic trying to get back where they started. Don’t. Instead of fighting a current that’s too strong directly back in, surrender to it taking you out a bit, likely only 100 to 200 yards. Most visitors panic thinking they’ll be swept out to sea; that is not usually the case. The man’s body at Hanakapi‘ai was 200 yards out. As someone on shore, you can wave the person to swim right or left of where they are (parallel to the rip current), and then rest/float until help comes, or they can make their way in at a safe spot just a bit down the shore. Paramedic’s rule: “Always take care of yourself first, so you can help take care of others.”

Some 30 donated lifeguard rescue tubes are being placed at unguarded beaches all over the island. This is a pet project of mine and Dr. Monty Downs, and Hanalei Rotary are looking to sponsor more tubes as well. If you see one up, know it’s for emergency use, not a play object, or a fisherman’s new buoy. They need to stay in place.

Also, I am very willing to take 30 minutes at a local beach, to show any interested resident for free, how to easily use a tube in an emergency. A local resident teenager used one of the tubes at Lumahai in July to save a visitor’s life who responding lifeguards said would have likely died had the tube and Good Samaritan teenager not done their thing.

The basics of using the tubes are easy:

• Wear the tube’s sash across your chest.

• Swim to victim, letting the tube drag behind you.

• As you near the victim, bring the tube forward and pass an end of the tube to the victim to calm them. Some 95 percent of the drowning element is the panic.

• Always keep the tube between you and the victim. 

• You both can use the tube to float until help arrives, or to kick in to shore.

Call me to set up a free 30-minute beach training at 635-7062 or e-mail: mysticseaswimmer@gmail.com

If you’re interested in buying a tube for yourself at cost, or donating to the project, that is fine too.

Other options: Take my refresher lifeguard course in one weekend, and/or a two hour CPR course for family and friends. Info at:  www.jtacpr.com

• John Tyler, Anahola

Heed the warnings

Thank you, Monty Downs, for your excellent commentary (“Drownings highlight seductive danger,” Guest Viewpoint, Oct. 15).

I live at Lae Nani where one of the drownings took place. But I have to tell you a lot of the problems are with our visitors. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone down to the beach and suggested to a visitor it would be best if they did not go in today because of high surf. I also have gone and warned them that it is unwise to go in at dusk or dawn especially when we have the brown water after a heavy rain.

Many times they say thank you for warning, but many times I get the answer, “Well, I am used to the ocean,” or “I am an expert swimmer.” No doubt some think this old lady probably just is jealous because she is too old to go in the ocean.

Not true. A couple of years ago myself and two friends swam over to Waialua Beach from Lae Nani. But we never would think about swimming out in the ocean without a friend.

A friend of mine who is the author of one of the Kaua‘i guides has tried to have others who write guides to remove the Kipu Falls site from their books.

No such luck.

Hope your commentary has an impact and gets more of us going to help make visitors aware of the dangers of the ocean.

• Sonja King, Kapa‘a

Varroa mite emergency

The Big Island Beekeepers Association recently called on Gov. Linda Lingle to deploy the National Guard to assist the HDOA in locating feral bee hives in the Keaukaha area. The honorable County Council Member Brenda Ford, District 7, in response has made the following announcement:

“Hawaii County Council member Brenda Ford, District 7, has requested Acting Mayor Dixie Kaetsu to declare a state of emergency for the Windward side of the County of Hawaii and to request Gov. Lingle to deploy the Hawaii National Guard to assist HDOA and the honey beekeepers of East Hawaii to locate feral bee colonies in the Hilo and Keaukaha areas.”

Anyone who is concerned about the continuation of the beekeeping industry in our state or the future of grown-in Hawaii, pollinator-dependent crops, please write or e-mail Acting Mayor Dixie Kaetsu in support of County Council Member Ford’s request. It has been five weeks since the first varroa mite was found in Hilo. The situation could not be more urgent, but with sufficient manpower, it is solvable. It is not possible to live with varroa on our islands. It must be eradicated.

• Cary Ploeger-Dizon, Kurtistown, Big Island

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