Maui, Hawaii

Blog: A taste of what you may find on Maui

Death in Paradise

This past week has been crazy. In the past nine days six tourists have died in the ocean with another near-fatality this morning. No, the sharks are not to blame – these men in their 50s and 60s died while snorkeling/scuba diving. I’ve linked these short articles so you can read a few of the details.

My condolences to their loved ones. This is a tragedy. When we go on vacation, we plan for things such as bad weather, sickness, even poor accommodations. But certainly not death.

 

How common are water-related deaths?

While this string of deaths from the past week is unheard of, water-related deaths are unfortunately more common than most think. According to statistics compiled by MauiNow we average between 12-25 deaths/year by drowning on Maui, the majority of them tourists. For much more information, please check out this article filled with statistics from MauiNow.

death
This is a graph borrowed from MauiNow.

 

What should you do?

Should you avoid the ocean altogether? No. I am not trying to scare you. But, it is important to understand that while Maui is paradise, it’s not Disney. Bad stuff can and does happen, you need to understand risks and take action accordingly. Consider these suggestions:

  • If you can’t swim, you should not go snorkeling. As an alternative, check out all the local fish at the Maui Ocean Center. It really is well done.
  • Snorkeling may seem like an easy and relaxing activity, but in reality it can place a lot of stress on your heart. It is easy to ‘become panicked either from swallowing water, not getting enough air, or simply from fear due to strong currents or waves.’ According to this Maui doctor’s article, cardiac arrest is the main factor to snorkeling deaths in people over the age of 50. Please, take the time to read the article.
  • Never snorkel (or dive) alone. Always use the buddy system and keep an eye on your buddy.
  • Be aware of water and wave conditions. The waves pick up at a certain time in the morning – snorkel early in the morning (before 9) for best conditions.
  • There is some discussion online about full-face masks possibly trapping CO2 in the mask. While this is an unproven theory, ask the pros and be sure you know how to properly use your equipment, making sure it is working correctly.
  • Remember – yes, some people die in drowning related accidents. However, consider that in 2016 we had 2.6 million visitors come to the island of Maui. According to the graph above, thirteen of them drowned. While that in itself is awful, the odds are you will be just fine. However do use common sense and be careful.

 

What to do if you see someone not moving in the water?

Call for help (9-1-1), try to get help to move them out of the water as soon as possible and start CPR.

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