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Tourists suffer more snorkeling deaths

From 2003 to 2012, the rate of tourist drownings in Hawaii was 13 times greater than the national average and almost 10 times greater than people who live there. According to statistics from the state, 102 tourists drowned while snorkeling from 2003 to 2012, while only 13 Hawaii residents drowned within the same time period. Almost one tourist dies weekly in recreation accidents involving snorkeling, swimming, hiking and scenic drives. Snorkeling is the most common of these activities that led to a deadly accident.

Some snorkels have devices added that are intended to keep water out. However, some experts believe that these devices may restrict air flow to their users and could be a cause of these drownings. Another recent and increasingly popular snorkeling mask covers the user's entire face. However, it may also limit air because there is a space of dead ventilation apparently bigger than the space contained in regular snorkel tubes. This may cause a buildup of carbon dioxide, which can cause disorientation and loss of consciousness. These masks may be difficult to remove during an emergency.

An Oahu physician is developing a device that will measure different snorkel tubes to determine their air resistance while breathing through them. County officials on Big Island, Maui, Kauai and Oahu announced that their agencies will monitor the type of snorkels used by drowning victims. The retired administrator of Honolulu's Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division has also called upon first responders to seek information about snorkeling related drownings or near-drownings.

Families of a drowning accident victim caused by another person's negligence or defective equipment should consult an experienced attorney to determine whether a wrongful death action should be filed. Lawyers can help ensure that evidence is located and that the victim's rights are pursued within legal time periods.

Source: Civil Beat, "Experts: Why Do So Many Hawaii Visitors Die Snorkeling?," Nathan Eagle, July 31, 2017

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