Monday, February 18, 2013


DEAD IS DEAD: We can sympathize. Travel does make you sort of move around in your own little mindless bubble.

"How do we get from point A to point B today so we can see and do X, Y and Z that we saw in the guide book or that our friends told us about?" All else is just a silly obstacle that is meant for someone else, not us.

When checking to see if we have brought everything- camera, toothpaste, credit cards, stun gun- we seem to consistently leave one thing at home... our brains.

Yes the brainless tourist. Here on Kaua`i we see them every day and become them when we venture off-island. The inevitable result is that, as an article on the local newspaper yesterday reminded us (as if we needed reminding):

In less than two months, Kaua‘i’s waters have claimed the lives of six individuals — five of them tourists — compared to a total of four drownings, two ocean and two freshwater, in 2012.

So what's the response?

According to the article Dr. Monty Downs, emergency room doctor and president of the Kaua`i Lifeguard Association:

Even when things are going well, I’m kind of fearful of what can happen,” Downs said. “We thought we were getting somewhere and came to find out we weren’t.”

Like many others, Downs said the major issue is visitors “not being informed” about Kaua‘i’s dangerous ocean conditions.

They're just not being informed. eh? This implies that while the message is right we just presumably need to get it out there better or more. The article continues...

Sue Kanoho of the Kaua`i Visitors Bureau (KVB) agreed, but said there are a wide variety of resources out there.

Every year we try to do something better,” she said. “At some point, it needs to be everybody sharing the same information.”

And what "information" is that? The idea is apparently that we're doing the right thing, just not enough if it. If we could just reach more people with the same message we're sending now, we could save more lives.

But guess what- we are NOT doing all we can to stop people from drowning, as this article tries to claim. We need to be stark in what we tell tourists. "Please try to be safe" isn't cutting it.

The fact is that the KVB doesn't want a more strongly worded message for fear of scaring the tourists away.

It's time for the obvious solution: how about big warning boxes as you book your Hawai`i vacation, big banners you can see as you board the plane, as you're leaving the airport baggage claim area and above all at the check-in desks at all the hotels and in every restaurant... and finally, on placards on the desks next to all the TV in every hotel room....all saying something along the lines of:

"DEATH awaits you in the ocean. People JUST LIKE YOU go into the water and DIE ALL THE TIME, sometimes even in calm, waist deep water. Sometimes they get swept in and DIE JUST STANDING ON THE SHORE near breaking waves.
Do not think you are special- YOU CAN AND WILL DIE TOO if you leave your brain behind when you come here and go to the beach. This is not Malibu. You are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Swimming ONLY at beaches with lifeguards may be the ONLY WAY to increase you chances of NOT DYING IN THE OCEAN."

We're not sure if even this will work but we do know that KVB and HVB have been blocking such stark language from appearing so as to avoid scaring off tourists. That has been the case since people suggested it 30 years ago.

Dr. Downs; you have the power to push the visitors' bureaus into using language that may cut through the lack of attention to their surrounding that tourist apparently embrace. You've done incredible work focusing all of us on ocean safety. There's just one more step- let's scare the b'geezus out of 'em


KimoRosen said...

Great article, please send to Garden Island letters to editor, more people need to read this!

Unknown said...

Unfortunately, the warnings you suggest, while saving some, just might entice others by how exciting and dangerous it seems. Warnings on cigarettes have not significantly cut down on smoking. Education helps and you can only hope people get smarter. They think they're in Disney Land or something--walk along highways in the traffic, for example, as if, in paradise, one is immune to death.

Andy Parx said...

You can be my agent Kimo.

KimoRosen said...

Andy, it needs to be sent in by the author for verification, how does TGI know you want it published? Otherwise I would be your agent, If you want I will push for you to have a weekly column, send me an email that I can use with a letter to the publisher and editor. Instead of Walter Lewis, Andy Parx!