Ocean Safety expresses concern over south swell season - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Ocean Safety expresses concern over south swell season

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Nicholas Kanakanui Nicholas Kanakanui
Joe Leopoldo Joe Leopoldo
Paul Merino Paul Merino
Jim Howe Jim Howe
Mike Cantin Mike Cantin
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Lifeguards are warning people about the dangerous conditions coming for south shores and the fact the majority of injures come from three foot waves.

The last day of class for public schools is May 24 and south swells are already starting to roll in which means beaches will start to get very busy. Lifeguards want to give people a heads up on some recommendations.

Sometimes the most beautiful places are also the most dangerous. Often injuries happen from people being too risky. Lifeguards say at least once a year someone breaks their neck jumping off "The Wall" in Waikiki.

"It hurts me when it happens to these young people and their life is changed forever," said Paul Merino, Ocean Safety Captain, who has been working Oahu's south shore for 35 years.

It's not just tourists but local kids will tell you they've been hurt too

"I went to do a spin and jump in the water and I didn't spin enough and I ended up pulling back and I hit my head on part of the reef," said Nicholas Kanakanui, 19, who says he's jumped off many times. "Still even if you're experienced jumping off this wall you still get hurt from time to time."

"It's really dangerous," said Joe Leopoldo, 19, who also says he has made the leap many times for fun.

Another suggestion that could save your life is taking your cell phone with you when you go out into the ocean.

"We had a case two months ago where a man lost his one man canoe and he had a cell phone and he was able to call 911. Our dispatch hooked us up with him. I spoke directly to him. Sent a Jetski directly to him and before something fatal happened the Jetski found him. I believe that case would have definitely turned out much worse had he not have brought his cell phone that day," said Merino. "Modern technology has it so cell phones can be put in plastic protective bags."

Ocean Safety is also warning people that 95 percent of the trauma injuries happen with waves three feet or smaller.

"That's waist high and below. It's waist down. It looks safe but you have to be very careful. There is just no water when that wave breaks. It's going to throw you right on the reef or right on the sand," said Jim Howe, Ocean Safety Chief of Operations.

Part of the reason smaller south shore waves cause so many more injuries is because there are simply more people out in the ocean. Many injuries come from someone elses board banging into another person.

Also south shore waves only have to be 8 feet to trigger an advisory and 15 feet for a warning. That's much different from north shore waves.

"Keep in mind that even though it only sounds like its an eight foot wave that's not big deal, that's our advisory level and people really need to take caution and be prepared before they head out," said Mike Cantin, National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist. "Understand that it doesn't take much of a wave or movement of water to get you into trouble very quickly."

And of course don't forget the sunscreen.