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February 26, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Be careful out there: 7 drownings already this year in Kauai

The Hawaiian waters are beautiful,  enticing  – and sometimes deadly.  On the island of Kauai alone,  seven  people already have drowned  in the first two months of this year.

The normal rate is about one a month, said Randy Blake, a physician who lives on Kauai. He urged people to swim at beaches with lifeguards.  And swimmers shouldn’t turn their backs on the ocean  (in case of a surging wave that could knock them over).

Hikers pause (in good weather) along a stream on the Na Pali coast of Kauai. Flash floods can make stream crossings dangerous. (Photos by Paul West/ Baltimore Sun.)

Most of the drowning victims in January and February have been tourists, including two California visitors who died in high surf in January. Most recently,  a New York tourist died  Thursday on a hike while trying to cross a stream swollen by heavy rain.

The hiker was among more than  50 people who were stranded overnight last Thursday  on the rugged Na Pali coast on  Kauai’s North Shore, along the Kalalau trail, popular for day and overnight hikes.  The stream at Hanakapi’ai, about two miles from the trailhead, was swollen by a flash flood, cutting  off hikers  and forcing them to stay overnight.  They were escorted out by emergency personnel after the water subsided.

Two Seattle hikers were  among 10 other hikers temporarily stranded farther along the Na Pali coast trail last week after a heavy rainstorm, said The Garden Island, a community newspaper on Kauai.

See Hawaii Beach Safety  for tips and updates on beach conditions on all the major Hawaiian islands.



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