Rip Your Life Away

The current advice on rip currents must be modified to address a series of pocket beaches along the coast of a round island.

Hawaii has a terrible problem with drownings. Some might be tourist suicide, no doubt. Others are caused by rip currents. There is often no “parallel beach” to swim along until you are out of the current. Many people go out snorkeling with only a mask and fins, which can be torn off by waves. They go out to deeper water, which is easy because the current carries them. But they can’t get back. Their bodies are frequently found 200 yards off the beach, lifeless and beyond resuscitation.

Some beaches in Hawaii, especially Kauai, have flotation devices (sticks) available, which will help someone swim out to you and drag you back. The authorities should be more proactive in warning people about swimming and snorkeling at beaches without lifeguards. If you make a mistake in the ocean, you might not live long enough to learn from it.

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