County ocean safety officials and state drowning prevention experts unveiled four 25-second videos Friday with tips for tourists to stay safe in Hawaii waters.
The four spots, produced by Visitor Video and 1013 Integrated, started airing last month every 90 minutes on the Real Hawaii TV channel that’s available in 25,000 hotel rooms on Oahu. There are plans to expand it to additional hotels on the neighbor islands by the end of the year.
Drowning is the leading cause of death among Hawaii’s nearly 9 million annual visitors.
The ocean safety chiefs from all four Hawaii counties — Honolulu’s Kevin Allen, Hawaii’s Gerald Kosaki, Kauai’s Kalani Vierra and Maui’s Colin Yamamoto — shared new drowning-prevention messages Friday in Waikiki.
Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat
Even as a press conference about the videos was being held Friday afternoon at the edge of Waikiki, emergency responders were searching for a 46-year-old California man who was last seen Thursday morning snorkeling off Tunnels Beach on the north side of Kauai, according to news releases.
Last year, there were at least 71 ocean drownings, and 43 of the victims were visitors, according to the Honolulu Emergency Services Department.
Tourists are drowning at roughly nine times the rate of local residents, far higher than the national average.
Each of the new ocean safety videos delivers a message: know your limits; swim at beaches with lifeguards; snorkel with a buddy; and never turn your back on the ocean. They will air on the Real Hawaii TV channel, which is available in 50 hotels on Oahu but is not the default station.
Watch the press conference here.
Dennis Burns, president of Visitor Video, said the videos “tell it like it is” and that he hopes they help reduce the number of drownings in Hawaii.
“Sorry it took two years but here we are,” he said.
The state Drowning and Aquatic Injury Prevention Advisory Committee, a group of lifeguards, health officials and other stakeholders, has been meeting regularly since 2015 to come up with ways to improve the safety of visitors, residents and military personnel who recreate in Hawaii’s waters.
“Media and public service announcements can play a critical role in forming visitor attitudes regarding what is appropriate behavior,” said Bridget Velasco, the state’s drowning and spinal cord injury prevention coordinator. “The challenge is to counter an always growing social media.”
Here are the four new videos: