Sunday’s Maui News had a front page article entitled ‘Dangerous Paradise’. In it, they again hi-lighted ‘common sense’ dangers, with County rescue personnel renewing their calls for a mandatory safety video to be shown on all incoming flights into Hawai’i.
For example, this past month, emergency personnel rescued over 20 hikers in separate incidents along various hikes along the Road to Hana. If I understand this article correctly, most of these hikers needed rescuing due to flash flooding. Flash flooding occurs when there is heavy rain causing water levels in streams and waterfalls to rise. It can also create temporary new streams and rivers as water rushes off the mountain towards the ocean. Sometimes the County will issue flash flooding alerts, but as you know, weather forecasting isn’t super exact, so flash flooding can occur with no warning at all.
When out and about, please pay attention to your surroundings. Be aware of the potential for flash flooding. Listen to warnings. If locals warn you not to go, take their advice.
Here is a drone video of a dramatic Maui rescue that was posted on Youtube two weeks ago. This rescue took place at a pool above Commando Trail – which, by the way, is private property, so going there without the property owner’s permission is trespassing (despite what guide books or tripadvisor may say).
According to the Maui News article in the past 10 years 17 people have died from hiking related deaths. According to emergency personnel, the numbers have been rising in recent years, due to an increase in tourists numbers but also an increasd popularity of guide books and of course internet resources which make certain hikes more popular.
More interestingly, in the past 10 years 125 people have drowned doing ocean-related activities, 73% of those non-residents. The beaches with the most drownings – Kaanapali and Kamaole-Oneloa (Big Beach).
Should you cancel your trip? Should you be afraid? No, but you should educate yourself to possible dangers when visiting a tropical location. For instance, how to deal with undertow in the water, or how to deal with flash-flooding. Be aware of your personal limitations, and never go hiking (or snorkeling for that matter) alone.
We want you to have an awesome vacation! Again – please watch this County of Maui safety video. We hope State and County officials will be able to convince airlines to show this or similar safety videos on all incoming flights to increase awareness and help keep the visitors to our islands safe.