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Safety tips for adventure vacations in Hawaii

Safety tips for adventure vacations in Hawaii

October 1, 2014

Are you planning an adventure vacation to Hawaii? It is important that you are aware of the possible dangers and that you are prepared should an accident occur. Unfortunately, there are thousands of Hawaiian visitors who are hospitalized every year after a serious injury or illness. Just under 60 tourists die while visiting the islands every year, and over 7,000 seek emergency room treatment. You owe it to yourself and your family to read these important safety tips if you are planning an adventure vacation to reduce the risk of an accident, illness or death.

TIP #1: WATCH WHERE YOU WALK

Many locations on Oahu, Maui, Hawaii and Kauai have frequent rains, leading to standing pools of water. Slip and fall accidents are responsible for the highest number of serious injuries to visitors to the state. It is vital that you are careful to avoid the risk of a slip and fall. Most injuries in fall accidents are not caused by a dramatic fall off one of the many cliffs on the islands, but rather a slip and fall in an ordinary location such as sidewalk, store, at a resort or on a trail or other location.

TIP # 2: WATCH WHERE YOU EAT

One of Hawaii’s greatest gifts is the abundant variety of seafood. Those who enjoy eating seafood take advantage of the range of delicious fresh seafood preparations when visiting the state. Where you eat is important, however. Seafood can be contaminated by bacteria, toxins or parasites that can lead to serious illness or death. If you get a seafood dish that does not taste or smell right, then don’t eat it. The risks to your health are far too high. Every Hawaiian restaurant has access to the freshest seafood, and there is no reason to serve anything less than the best. If you suffer from symptoms of food poisoning, go to the emergency department of the closest hospital immediately.

Here are the symptoms to watch for and the type of infection or exposure to parasites or toxins to be alert to:

TIP # 3: HEED ALL BEACH WARNINGS

The beaches and other natural locations throughout Hawaii are exceptionally beautiful, but also dangerous. If a location is hazardous to visitors, signs are posted. Don’t ignore them! Many visitors are injured or killed in some of the most commonly visited natural attractions. Read the warning signs and be alert, as one large wave can sweep an area that looks safe when you arrive. Rip currents can make it difficult for a swimmer to return to shore. Various sea creatures can cause painful injuries. Get educated and share information with your friends and family. Eighty-six percent of the drownings for non-residents occur in the ocean.

Ten-Year Rate of Ocean Drownings in Hawaii, by Island

TIP # 4: BE PREPARED WHEN YOU HIKE

There are several very famous and beautiful hikes for adventurers to Hawaii. You need to be prepared when you decide to go on any hiking adventure. Wear comfortable shoes so your feet don’t blister. Carry as much water and light food as you can. Put on sunscreen and bring some with you. Every year, several tourists suffer from exposure or are injured because they were unprepared for the difficulty of the hike, the heat, the length of the hike, dangers in the environment, dehydration, exposure or other threats to health.

TIP # 5: SOME OF THOSE BUGS BITE

One of the most dangerous Hawaiian insects is the centipede. A sting can mean a trip to the emergency ward. Check your shoes before you put them on, as centipedes like to hide in dark places. Those on an adventure vacation are more likely to run into centipedes, as hotels and resorts spray for insects. On a jungle hike or when camping, you have a much higher risk of a centipede bite. Hawaii also has scorpions on the dryer side of the islands so watch where you walk. Be alert to the various insects and always check clothing and shoes before you put them on.

TIP # 6: HAWAIIAN SUN: IT BURNS BETTER THAN THE REST

Wear sunblock at all times. Serious sunburns are dangerous and can lead to skin infections and scarring. It is nice to have a golden tan, but Hawaii has a UV index of 14+ every day, higher than in any state. The constant winds make it seem cooler. Protect your skin from burns, as serious sunburns are common, and can make your adventure vacation a nightmare where you are forced to stay indoors while you recover.

TIP # 7: WATER SAFETY IS KEY

Rip currents, sharp coral, stinging jellyfish and sea urchins all pose a risk to swimmers. It is important that you don’t swim alone, and that you educate yourself on the various creatures that can be dangerous to swimmers and beachgoers. Read all posted signs before you enter the water. Rip currents can be deadly. If you are at a remote beach on a Hawaiian adventure, be educated on the risks. Should one of your party be injured, you need to know what to do and taking basic lifesaving classes before you go to Hawaii will keep your entire party safer. If you are taking part in a water sport such as snorkeling or scuba driving as part of a group led by an adventure outfitter, the outfitter may be held legally responsible if an tourist’s injury was caused by the outfitter’s disregard for safety.

Source: Hawaii Department of Health: http://health.hawaii.gov/injuryprevention/files/2013/10/2013-Drowning-Conf.-Visitor-Safety-How-are-we-doing.pdf

TIP # 8: WHERE TO GO AND WHERE NOT TO GO

If you are traipsing through the wilderness and see a sign on the trail that says “Kapu,” do not enter that area – it is private or off-limits. If a trail is marked as closed, do not proceed on it. It is closed for a reason. It is important that you explore locations that will not put you or anyone in your party at risk of injury. There are dangers in remote freshwater pools, caves, lava tubes and other natural areas that could lead to serious injury or death. Walking on lava is difficult, the rock is extremely sharp and a fall can lead to deep cuts and abrasions. The warm and humid weather conditions in Hawaii make it more likely that a cut or abrasion can become seriously infected.

TIP # 9: STAY IN CONTACT

Make sure someone knows where you are going, how long you plan to stay and that you have an arrangement to stay in contact. If no one knows you are lost, a search won’t be initiated. Take extra batteries for your cellphone and keep them safe.

TIP # 10: CARRY BASIC FIRST AID SUPPLIES

Carry bandages, disinfectant and other basic first aid supplies with you when you go. Your pack is heavy, but adding these items can save a life. Get educated on various lifesaving techniques so you are prepared, including the application of a tourniquet, how to dress wounds, how to handle infections, as well as lifesaving techniques for water accidents. You are in control, and you can make a difference to everyone if you are prepared for any eventuality.

If you have been injured or someone you loved has suffered a serious injury or died while on a Hawaiian adventure holiday, contact Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner, a personal injury law firm that provides counsel to visitors and residents throughout Hawaii.

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