I had the great honor of speaking at the State of Hawaii Drowning Prevention Conference today. It was inspiring to be with the Hawaii Watermen and to hear learn more of their professionalism, expertise and bravery. I am grateful for their hospitality.
A podcast of my speech can be found at http://web.me.com/rebeccawr63/Site/Podcast/Entries/2010/8/13_I_do_not_want_another_child_to_drown..html
Never Turn Your Back On The Ocean.
I love that sign. How often do you read the warning signs around you? What would make you stop and actually pay attention to the signs? I just returned from a week in Kaua’i with my kids and we had a wonderful, relaxing week playing in the surf and splashing in the pool. Hawaii really does seem as close to paradise as I’ve seen, but in the words of one Hawaiian resident, the waves were honkin’ last week. Glorious to watch, great for experienced surfers and people who have grown up around the ocean, a bit more dangerous for uninformed tourists.
A sign posted by the beach we frequented had a number of really important tips on ocean safety, but the phrase ‘Never Turn Your Back On The Ocean’ really caught my eye and became a catch-phrase with my kids. It seemed particularly relevant as I watched my petite 6-year old daughter bend down to find a treasure in the sand, facing away from the ocean. I was always between her and the ocean because I knew how easily one wave could knock her unawares and possibly become a serious problem. My strapping, rugby-playing 17-year old borrowed teenager got knocked down a few times and it takes a serious amount of force to accomplish that!
I spoke with some amazing people in Kaua’i who have dedicated their lives to preventing drowning accidents and learned that more than 70% of drownings are from tourists, usually men over 20. One man told me that probably everyone on Kaua’i had experienced a scare in the ocean, but there is such a gradual exposure to the ocean over their lifetimes and such great early education from local authorities that it was more tourists running into trouble than locals. When you are traveling anywhere where water is unfamiliar take a look at the warning signs, let me know if you find any that grabs your eye, and remember, ‘Never Turn Your Back On The Ocean!’