GUAM DROWNINGS SHOW NEED FOR WARNINGS

Editorials

Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (Jan. 3) - Most things in nature that are beautiful are also the most dangerous and Guam’s surrounding waters are no exception.

Every day, residents and visitors venture out into the clear blue waters of Guam. Some swim, snorkel or dive. Others go boating, parasailing or fishing. Still others paddle or zip across the bays on personal motorized watercraft or wind craft. That’s why it’s so critical that we learn to always respect the power of the water and remain aware of the dangers that it holds.

Just a day into the New Year, Guam already has its first drowning. And it comes on the heels of a year in which our community saw 20 people drown, not including four people lost in the ocean who have yet to be accounted for.

Even the most placid and frequently used of Guam's beaches aren't completely free of danger; there have been drownings at popular swimming areas such as Ypao Beach Park. But some areas of the island are exceedingly more dangerous than others, and extra care and caution must be practiced at these locations.

Ritidian Beach is one such area. The powerful currents at this pristine northern beach have claimed far too many lives over the years. Ritidian, like other dangerous stretches, has warning signs that explain the dangers: steep drop-offs, riptides, strong currents, etc.

To ignore or forget these warnings is perilous, even for the most able and strongest swimmers, even for those with years of experience in and around the ocean. Never let the beauty of your surroundings make you forget the very real dangers of the environment you're in.

And perhaps these more dangerous beaches need stronger visual warning signs. Perhaps we should consider a graphic board for each location that lists the number of rescues performed at each site, as well as the number of lives lost. Maybe this would serve as a more vivid reminder of the inherent dangers in the area.

January 3, 2005

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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