Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (Nov. 30) - One of Guam's natural treasures is the warm waters surrounding our island. They provide some top-quality diving and good fishing, and are used by a variety of sports enthusiasts, from swimmers to surfers, and from paddlers to those who enjoy motorized watercraft.

But as beautiful and enjoyable as the ocean surrounding us is, it can also be dangerous and deadly -- even if the water looks safe, there is no guarantee that it is.

The proximity of Tropical Storm Nanmadol has resulted in the National Weather Service issuing a warning about dangerous ocean conditions. The storm could cause strong rip currents and high surf, weather officials said.

On several occasions this year, people have had to be rescued from the ocean, and 20 people have drowned in Guam's waters -- not including four people who are still considered missing. None of us want to see that number increase.

That's why it's critical for anyone who will be in or around the waters to be especially careful and cautious while perilous ocean conditions persist. Maintain a healthy respect for possible danger.

Don't swim, dive or surf alone; bring along a partner.

Pay attention to posted warning signs, especially those regarding dangerous currents.

Never enter the water unless you know about hazards, water depth, rocks and currents.

If you're caught swimming in a current, don't panic. Swim with it diagonally until you are safe. Swim parallel to the reef and, if you see a spot that you know is safe, try to swim back in. If the water is rough or you don't see a good spot, just wait for rescuers.

If you are going to be out on a personal motorized watercraft or a boat, wear the proper life jacket; it could save your life.

Those going on boating or diving excursions should file a float/dive plan with friends and family.

If someone is swept over the reef, call 911. Don't attempt to go after them yourself; wait for the trained professionals to get there.

December 1, 2004

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