HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the wake of several high-profile tragedies on Hawaii hiking trails and in the water, first responders are urging safety as people head out for summer activities.
Honolulu Fire Capt. Scot Seguirant said a little prevention goes a long way.
“Prepare for something to go wrong. You want to make sure that you come to nature with a humble attitude, because nature, at times, can be unforgiving,” Seguirant said.
“Don’t get caught up with that bucket list of social media and try to get that selfie of, ‘I was here and I conquered this.’”
Ocean drownings are one of the leading causes of death in Hawaii.
While visitors are 10 times more likely to drown than residents, Honolulu Emergency Services Department’s spokeswoman Shayne Enright said everyone should take safety precautions before entering the water.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a resident or a visitor, Mother Nature does not discriminate,” Enright said. “We see very experienced local people get into trouble here.”
Here are some tips to keep you safe this summer:
At the beach:
- Look for lifeguards: Try to go to beaches with lifeguards and ask them questions about the ocean, like what the conditions are like for the day. Lifeguards are very experienced and a great source of information, so do not hesitate to talk to them.
- Be aware of your surroundings: Take a couple of minutes to observe what the ocean is doing before you jump in. Check the weather report for rain and rough waters. Keep in mind that conditions can change very quickly.
- Know your limits: Ask yourself if you are a strong or experienced swimmer. If you are unfamiliar with a certain beach or did not grow up knowing how the ocean works, ask someone whether or not a certain beach is appropriate for you.
- Test out your gear: You should always test your snorkeling, and other ocean gear before you go out.
- Stay calm: If you ever find yourself in trouble in the ocean, try to stay calm and float on your back. Panicking will increase your heart rate and you’ll get tired, which can lead to drowning.
- Call for help: If you witness anyone in trouble, call 911 immediately. If someone is drowning, you can throw out a flotation device to help them, but do not put yourself at risk by trying to save them.
- Swim with the current: If you are caught in a rip current, do not try to swim directly into it, swim parallel to the shore. There will be a break in the current and you will eventually be able to swim out.
- Read and obey warning signs: Theyʻre there to keep you safe.
On a hike:
- Charge your phone: Make sure your phone is fully charged and take it with you. If you’re concerned about conserving battery power, bring an external charger or turn your phone off and only turn it back on when you absolutely need it.
- Brighten up: Bring a flashlight, even if it’s in the day. It may come in handy if you get lost. You can also bring a mirror or shiny device that could bring attention to you. Wear or bring something in a bright color that contrasts with foliage, like a red, yellow, or orange t-shirt.
- Stay on the trail: The trail is the easiest place for rescuers to find you if you need help.
- Check the weather: A rainy day is not the best for a hike, as the trail could become muddy and slippery.
- Check yourself: Make sure that you are physically able to do a hike before trying to do it.