Stay alert, be smart in the water

News

Stay alert, be smart in the water

by: Shoji Kudaka | .
Stripes Okinawa | .
published: November 27, 2016

With three drownings in October, the seemingly picture-perfect waters of Okinawa have shown just how deadly they can be.

As a life-long Okinawan, this news is nothing new to me. I’ve grown up with the danger, I’ve read the news and I’ve heard the stories. People like to enjoy their water sports, but as a local, I’ve grown up knowing the harsh reality – these waters can be deadly.

Whether it’s more because of skill or out of fear, personally, I don’t spend much time in the water. As a child, I remember hearing a story about a local school kid being killed while snorkeling in very shallow water.

I have a fear of rip currents after a friend of my fathers’ nearly drowned as he desperately struggled to get out of the current. And tragically, my father had a brother who died very young in a water accident.

Things like this have always stuck with me, and taught me to respect the beautiful waters of Okinawa. They are not to be taken lightly, and I am reminded of this every year.

My fear of the water is nothing to be proud of, but there are dangers to be scared of at sea. And the best way to beat the fear is to be aware of the potential danger and be prepared for it. Preparation is critical at sea, because it may be too late when the danger finds you.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t enjoy a day at the beach. You should. All I’m saying is if you’re out snorkeling or scuba diving, know what you are getting into. And never go alone.

So, be alert and stay safe when you explore the waters. It just might save your life.