Serene beach images can put people in danger

A letter writer recently suggested that authors and publishers of guidebooks that entice unwary visitors to dangerous places like Queen’s Bath be held responsible when such visitors are injured or killed. I suggest that the publishers of postcards and other images like the one I noticed recently also should be culpable.

The card, which is for sale at many Kauai shops, bears the caption, “A lucky couple strolls along the golden sparkling sand of Lumahai.” When first I read that, my reaction was, “Those people will indeed be lucky … if they get to the other end of the beach alive.”

The image shows people walking along Lumahai Beach well below the highest reach of the crashing surf. A recently article in The Garden Island illustrates what can happen to people who do this. Fortunately, a man who was dragged out to sea from this treacherous shore was rescued. Others who have been caught as he was have not survived.

I might add that I am not merely being paranoid in my assessment. When I showed this card to a former Oahu lifeguard, he said it gave him the creeps to think about the hazard it depicts.

People like my friend the lifeguard who understand the beach and surf conditions can look at images like this one and see what dangers they represent. Yet, how can someone from Montana, Manitoba or some other landlocked locale be expected to figure this out?

I submit that companies, especially local ones, that propagate such images should be asked to stop. After all, Kauai has many beautiful beaches that are far safer than Lumahai. Let the makers of postcards, posters, brochures, etc., use pictures of those places.

If the publishers remain unpersuaded, shops on Kauai might be prevailed upon to refuse to stock these images.

This is not about political correctness. This is about saving lives. If some people hesitate to warn visitors for fear of scaring them away and harming the industry, is it not better to have visitors scared than to have them dead?

All honor and gratitude to our brave lifeguards and other rescuers for their often dangerous service. Certainly they deserve support from the rest of us. If removing guidebooks, postcards and other publications that lure visitors into danger can help reduce the need for them to put themselves at risk, let’s do it.

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H.M. Wyeth is a resident of Anahola

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