July is National Public Safety Month. As vice president of the Kauai Lifeguard Association and a boating instructor/vessel examiner for the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, I offer the following ocean safety recommendations:
• Learn to swim
• Swim with adult supervision
• Swim with a buddy
• Call for help if your buddy is missing
• Obey all posted warning signs
Don’t become one of our tragic statistics. Know before you go:
• Rip currents can pull you out to sea. Recognize them. Don’t panic or fight them. Go with the flow and wave for help or swim back to shore once released
• Stay off rocks. The ocean can appear calm for up to 20 minutes between dangerous waves and sweep you off the rocks
• Shore breaks can pound you into the sand and cause serious injuries
• Reef breaks can hold you under water longer than you can hold your breath
• Crossing streams during or after heavy rains can be dangerous
• Most importantly, swim near a lifeguard. They are knowledgeable and skilled to provide advice and assistance if needed
Take a safe boating course. They are mandatory after November 2014. Be familiar with the equipment you’ll need to stay alive at sea and how to use it.
• Wear your lifejacket. It’s like your seat belt; it will not help unless you’re wearing it
• Have a signaling mirror for daytime signaling; A DVD or CD works well
• Have a strobe light on your lifejacket for nighttime signaling
• Check a current weather report before you go
• Leave a float plan with a responsible person
• Carry a marine radio and EPIRB for distress calling
• Have a sea anchor to keep your bow into the wind and slow your drift if you lose power
Request a vessel safety check to make sure you have all your required and recommended equipment.
A vessel examiner can also answer most of your questions about being safe at sea.
In addition to the above, have your paddle and vessel leashed to you. The wind and current may sweep them away faster than you can swim.
Enjoy our wonderful ocean recreation. Your safety is your responsibility. Read our Kauai Beach Guide for ocean safety tips. For a free online boating course visit BoatUS.com. For free vessel inspections or information about the mandatory Hawaii boating course call Jim Jung, 822-0448.