For Kauai’s ocean safety community, one life lost is one too many. And at the start of 2013, there were many lost due to drownings. That’s why the island’s team of first responders – including lifeguards and fire fighters – have stepped in to provide awareness through education.
The Water Awareness Visitor Education (WAVE) program was established with this sole purpose. It will be a commonly-seen acronym for those visiting the island. In fact, it’s one of the first things seen upon landing. WAVE put together the ocean safety video playing at the Lihue Airport’s baggage claim area. It will hopefully also be playing in hotel rooms.
Speaking of hotels, it’s the very place that visitors rely on for information. Hence, the team has been making its rounds in training hotel staff on how to best inform guests about ocean dangers. It’s the most efficient way of getting to the source of visitor awareness. So far, more than 1,200 residents and 100 businesses have participated in training and education, according to WAVE’s website.
In further driving awareness through the community, WAVE developed educational materials, such as the Kauai Ocean Report (www.kauaiexplorer.com/ocean_report/). It’s a daily report of the surf and ocean conditions that’s also easy to read. If you remember anything when visiting the islands, remember what’s written at the very top of the report’s website: “WHEN IN DOUBT DON’T GO OUT!”
I applaud the effort and hard work put forth by the Kauai community in building better ocean awareness. The WAVE program and initiatives are, by far, the most advanced in Hawaii and truly a model of excellence for other islands to follow. It’s a kakou thing, so let’s all try our best to spread ocean safety with others.
WATER AWARENESS VISITOR EDUCATION (WAVE) • Program that educates visitors and residents on water safety for the goal of saving lives • www.kauailifeguards.org/ohana/wave_project.aspx