Ocean safety creates hotel room PSAs to help prevent visitor drownings

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii visitors will be getting some life-saving advice in their hotel rooms.

Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among visitors in the state -- with 43 visitor drownings statewide last year alone -- and ocean safety leaders are hoping a new series of public service announcements will make a difference.

"Clear, concise, consistent, and convincing messaging across the state of Hawaii is an imperative part of public health in drowning," said Bridget Velasco, drowning prevention coordinator for the state health department.

Ocean Safety partnered with local production company Visitor Video to create four different PSA, each with an important and simple safety message.

  • Know your limits.
  • Use lifeguarded beaches.
  • Snorkel with a buddy.
  • Don't turn your back to the ocean.

"We just recently had a case on Maui where the snorkel buddy kept that person's head above water until the lifeguards could arrive on scene. That saved that person's life," said Battalion Chief Colin Yamamoto, Maui Ocean Safety.

The PSAs have already started airing on Oahu and are being shown in about 25,000 hotel rooms. There are plans to begin running the videos on the neighbor islands in the next several months, expanding the reach to up to 40,000 hotel rooms.

"Just on Oahu last year, we did 1.5 million preventive actions with our beach lifeguards. Now working with companies like Visitor Video, we just expanded that reach of our lifeguards," said Jim Howe, director of Honolulu's emergency services department.

Right now the PSAs are only in English, but Visitor Video says they're visual and simple enough to get the message across.

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