Letter for Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Drowning is preventable

A recent article in TGI (May 5) about recreational deaths (specifically drowning) prompted me to submit my own thoughts on the subject. During my term as vice president of the Kauai Lifeguard Association, I was acutely aware of the dangers to our residents and visitors and was very involved with promoting beach safety by providing public education.

At community gatherings I displayed information about what is drowning; why people drown; how drowning can be prevented. Allow me to share some of that information.

Drowning is getting water into the airway and lungs. That happens when a swimmer becomes distressed, panics and hyperventilates, thus involuntarily swallowing water.

Some of the reasons why people drown:

1. Unaware of dangers of rocks, rogue waves, rip currents, shore and reef breaks and crossing treacherous streams.

2. Ignores dangers and take risks.

3. Overestimate ability.

4. Medical problems.

5. Improper use of snorkeling gear.

Some of the ways to prevent drowning:

1. Learn to swim.

2. Ask a lifeguard about current water conditions.

3. Swim near a lifeguard.

4. Swim with adult supervision (on shore).

5. Swim with a buddy (in water).

6. Call for help if buddy is missing or in distress.

7. Obey all posted warning signs.

Why talk to a lifeguard before entering the water and swimming near one? Kauai lifeguards are knowledgeable and skilled to provide advice and assistance if needed. During 2017 Kauai lifeguards made 165,319 preventions and 443 actual rescues!

On Kauai there are more beaches than lifeguard towers. A roving lifeguard patrol attempts to cover some of the unguarded areas.

All drownings are preventable, but all drownings will not be prevented. Some folks are unaware of the dangers. Some folks will risk them. Please be aware and do not dare. Know before you go and when in doubt, don’t go out.

Jim Jung, Kapaa

  1. Native May 8, 2019 3:00 pm Reply

    Mr. Jung lists the reasons why people drown and ways to prevent drowning. Probably the most common reason people drown is panic.
    When they sense they’re in trouble, panic sets in and they fatigue very quickly as they desperately try in vain to fight the current or scramble to get onto shore. To save themselves, they actually need to swim out towards the open ocean out of the danger zone or go with the current instead of fighting it. You will have to be able to tread water or float until help arrives or you’re able to safely find another way back to shore.

    1. Craig Callaway May 9, 2019 5:27 pm Reply

      I hope I never have to use your advice — but if I do, I’ll try to remember it. Mahalo.

    2. roger May 9, 2019 10:16 pm Reply


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