Don’t miss chamber meeting on ocean safety

Kauai Chamber of Commerce meetings are generally not to be missed. Under the leadership of President Mark Perriello, the chamber’s quarterly gatherings are festive affairs, a chance to talk story with others in the business community and a chance to learn something new from the many guest speakers. As always, we encourage businesses to join the chamber as the benefits are far more than the cost.

That said, the chamber’s meeting on March 14 promises to be something very special. Sponsored by the Kauai Lifeguard Association and the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club, the theme is “Help Save Lives — Ocean Minded Community Campaign.”

Our lifeguards are busy. KLA reported that lifeguards with the Ocean Safety Bureau in 2018 conducted 282 rescues, administered first aid 6,280 times, and was responsible for over 157,000 preventive actions.

KLA has long been the leading voice when it comes to ocean safety. Its president, Dr. Monty Downs, is one of the best and brightest people we know and when he speaks, we listen. Monty will be on the ocean safety forum at the chamber meeting, along with Kalani Vierra, KFD, Ocean Safety Bureau Chief; Sue Kanoho, executive director, Kauai Visitors Bureau; Paul Toner, GM, Kauai Marriott and Arryl Kaneshiro, council chair.

Special guest will be Kauai’s Mike Coots, shark attack survivor, photographer and professional body boarder. Look for a feature story about Mike and KLA’s ocean-safety efforts in this Sunday’s TGI.

The man behind the scenes for KLA is Andy Melamed, who retired following a success career in the radio industry and is instrumental today is leading KLA’s ocean-safety campaign.

If there is one chamber meeting you should attend, it’s this one. Cost for chamber members is $70 by March 7, then $80. It’s $90 for guests and nonmembers at the door, which includes a fabulous dinner.

But more important is the message of ocean safety. The more publicity that can be raised about the dangers and power of the ocean, and the need to be careful, the more lives that will be saved. The number of drownings has declined as more people are hearing about the need to be safe. And more locals are stepping up to warn our guests when they see them about ready to go snorkeling or swimming where they should not. Key, of course, is to swim in life-guarded areas. We know the allure of beautiful, isolated beaches is powerful, but it’s not worth the risk.

We hope to see you at the chamber meeting next week.

Meantime, along these lines, we have to give a shoutout to The Kauai Fire Department, the KFD Ocean Safety Bureau, and the KLA, which held a blessing for the Wanini Roving Patrol Unit at ‘Anini Beach Park on Friday.

We support what our mayor, Derek S.K. Kawamaki, had to say:

“To our brave hearts in the Ocean Safety Bureau, our Fire Department, our public safety officials, we want to thank you for being the guardians of our very special places and to our keiki and kupuna. We couldn’t get this done without the generosity of the public and our County Council.”

On Feb. 1, Mayor Kawakami signed Bill 2731, enacting the Kauai Fire Department to create two new ocean safety officer positions, and one part-time ocean safety officer position. These positions will support and improve the level of service needed at ‘Anini Beach Park, which has grown in popularity with the closure of the North Shore to the general public following the April floods. Anini Beach is one of those areas that can be deceptively dangerous, especially should you venture toward the end of the road, where the ocean currents are more unpredictable. We recommend snorkelers stay in front of the park, an area where reefs offer protection.

The ocean is beautiful, just as it is dangerous. Be careful out there. Listen to the fine folks at KLA and our Ocean Safety Bureau. When it comes to saving lives, they know what they’re talking about.

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