Kauai community shows resolve, determination to keep visitors safe

9 deaths in 9 weeks cause for alarm

Published  10:55 PM HST Mar 05, 2013
HONOLULU -

“A lot of these people venture into these really, really, hairy situations,” said Dickie Chang, who is a local producer and director.

Chang’s been working with local emergency personnel and island leaders to produce an educational video.

On Kauai, it as already become an all-out effort to keep island visitors safe.

In the past year, private donations have paid for jet skis, ATVs for rescues over long stretches of beach and nearly 200 rescue tubes posted on a number of Kauai's beaches.

“Everybody's doing a great great job,” said Chang.

Chang said the island's rotary club, raised some $40,000 for a new ocean safety video that will soon start playing at the Lihue Airport baggage claim.

Experts said tourist behaviors have changed, especially in recent years.

“From ecotourism to experiential tourism, people really want to get out there and experience the islands now. The difficulty is what may have been a great experience on Monday may be a deadly experience on Monday afternoon,” said Ocean Safety Honolulu Director Jim Howe.

Experts agree more visitors are getting information from social media, blogs, or staying at vacation rentals, where tips ocean safety are scarce.

“What happens on Kauai impacts the whole state,” said Life Bridge's Gina Kaulukukui, who consoles the families of drowning victims.

She said it has become everyone's responsibility to inform visitors on how to stay safe.

“It's not deterring our visitors from coming here. What's going to deter them from coming here is if they come here and drown,” she said.

“You know they all have their own lives, but they are dedicated to public safety and nobody wants to quit. Nobody wants to give up,” said Chang.

Kauai county is considering producing a video to educate residents on how to give helpful information to visitors.

A Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson also said they used to run an ocean safety video on fights and would consider doing so again.

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