There’s no way to sugar-coat the message that Kauai’s beaches are beautiful, but dangerous, too.
So the Kauai Lifeguard Association didn’t.
In its new, recently released brochure, the KLA places the word, “Hazards” right under the cover of the words “Kauai Beach Guide” on the cover. Turn the page, and the words, “Beautiful. Dangerous,” are there in bold capital letters.
The publication, says KLA president Monty Downs, is “a little more to the point” then its predecessor.
“Kauai is a beautiful destination, but not entirely all peaceful,” he said.
KLA had 250,000 of the colorful brochures printed up at a cost of $27,000. It was funded by donations from sponsors that include Wilcox Memorial Hospital, The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort and Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers.
“There’s people who believe in it,” Downs said.
The goal is to provide information to keep people safe when exploring the island’s beaches. The brochure offers safety tips, information about beach and surf patterns, how to recognize rip currents and what to do if caught in one.
KLA took on a little more aggressive tone with it to do all it could to let visitors know they can’t afford to be careless and must be wary when swimming, especially in non-lifeguard beaches.
“It’s play time. Time for exploring wild places,” it reads. “It’s so beautiful. Kauai has you in that blissed-out-nothing-can-go-wrong state. But watch out! Kauai is a small island in a big ocean. Yesterday’s calm snorkel spot can quickly transition to one with powerful surf and currents. Help is usually a long way away, and frequently too late. Don’t underestimate the power of the ocean (or over-estimate your ability).”
There have been four drownings in Kauai’s waters this year, and Downs hopes there won’t be anymore. Many drownings happen close to shore when people panic after finding themselves in water over their heads.
“It happens super fast,” he said.
The key when caught in a rip current, Downs said, is to remain calm, relax, breathe, float and go with the current until it releases you.
He couldn’t say with certainty that more people are getting the message about the ocean dangers off beaches.
“I do know this: there are people alive because of our efforts,” he said.
The free brochures have been distributed around the island, including the Lihue Airport, hotels and racks where the public can easily find them.