Drownings are a major cause of death in Hawaii. A new website aims to change that

Drownings are a major cause of death in Hawaii. A new website aims to change that
(AP Photo/John Locher) (Source: John Locher)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ocean drowning continues to be one of the leading causes of death in the islands, but a new initiative is trying to fix that.

The state has launched a new website aimed at encouraging residents and visitors to respect the ocean ― and stay beach safe.

The website, created by the state Health Department, aims to decrease risk factors and increase protective factors for beachgoers, such as providing links to beaches with lifeguards and their schedules, live ocean conditions and information on different warning signs.

Data on ocean incidents on Hawaii can also be found, including a list of beaches with the highest frequency of spinal cord injuries.

“Keeping everyone who goes to the ocean safe is a top priority,” said Bridget Velasco, the Hawaii Department of Health’s drowning and spinal cord injury prevention coordinator.

“We realized that there was no online resource on ocean safety in Hawai‘i and that it would be valuable for residents and visitors to have a comprehensive website dedicated to providing everything from the interpretation of beach hazard signage to snorkeling tips and basic data about drowning and spinal cord injuries.”

Ocean drowning is the fourth leading cause of injury related death in Hawaii, and by far the leading cause for visitors.

From 2008 to 2017, the state said, Hawaii saw 682 ocean drownings.

Of those, 55 percent were visitors.

Visitors also made up a startling 81 percent of ocean-related spinal cord injuries over the same period.

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