Web site will promote safety at the shore
A new Web site provides information on ocean conditions and hazards.
MUCH IS MADE of Hawaii's unenviable distinction of having among the highest drowning rates in the nation, but seeing as how no other state is surrounded by ocean, the reason would seem apparent.
Nonetheless, that is exactly why education and information about beach conditions, ocean hazards and warnings are important. A new Web site introduced last week by Gov. Linda Lingle will prevent drownings and other misadventures for tourists and residents.
Visitor industry businesses should make tourists aware of the site, urge their customers to check it before heading off to the beach and make computers available so they can.
Residents, who often think they are in familiar waters, also should use the site since almost half of the people who drown every year are local people.
The Web site is a collaboration with the city's Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division, the University of Hawaii's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology and the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association.
It provides maps of the major islands and lists beaches, noting conditions such as wave heights, wind speed and direction, and level of danger and hazards near and off shore. Each beach is described in detail, noting reefs, sandy or rocky coastlines, strong currents, popular activities such as surfing and body-boarding, as well as locations of lifeguard stations and bathrooms.
The site, updated every 10 minutes to present wind and wave data and at least every six hours for fresh advisories and warnings, will be useful not only to swimmers, but to fishers, kayakers, sailors, surfers and others. It is fitting that the nation's only true ocean state delivers information to keep people who live and visit the islands safe.
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