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Tourists drown 9 times more often than residents

Hawaii is a much sought after vacation paradise for tourists, with 8.9 million visitors arriving in 2016. However, fatal consequences have sometimes greeted these visits.

Visitors suffered 356 drownings from 2007 through 2016, compared to 294 drownings by residents. Over the last 10 years, approximately 900 people drowned in the state during that period. This is causing increasing concerns because of the number of tourists arriving each year. There was a three percent increase in tourist visits in 2016. Each day, there are 219,265 tourists in Hawaii.

In 2016, 74 people drowned in the ocean, while 18 drowned in swimming pools, freshwater caves, streams and other bodies of water. This was a small drop from 2015. However, this exceeded the average of 69 drownings from 2007 to 2016.

Snorkeling is the most common activity that was involved with these drownings and 156 non-residents drowned while snorkeling. Unique ocean conditions and inadequate safety warnings are the top causes of these accidents, according to experts. Middle-aged or older males had the highest risk of drowning, according to the latest data. Their average age was 49, while 83 percent of drowning victims were male.

This problem has persisted into 2017. Unofficial figures show that there were nine drownings on Oahu this year compared to 37 for all of last year. Kauai had seven drownings in 2017. It suffered eight drownings in all of 2016. Big Island had five drownings this year, compared to seven all last year.

Approximately 74 percent of tourist drownings occurred in Kauai and Maui over the last 10 years, compared to 45 percent in Big Island and Oahu. This was attributed to the smaller number of beaches on Big Island and the larger local population residing in Oahu.

Authorities are placing four new public service announcements on ocean safety in 30,000 hotel rooms across Hawaii. These will address snorkeling, the dangers of taking selfies, swimming at beaches with lifeguards and participating in water activities within a person's limits.

Families of drowning victims should seek legal assistance to determine whether the drowning was caused by faulty equipment or another person's negligence. When this occurs, they may be able to seek compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Source: Civil Beat, "Hawaii Tourists Are Drowning At Nine Times The Rate Of Locals," Nathan Eagle, Aug. 15, 2017

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