Water Safety updates
Updated on 6th Oct 2023
October is a dangerous month to be out in the water. Find out why
Updated on 29th September 2023
Technology introduction: Japan Life Saving Association deployed AI camera system for water safety
To prevent water accidents caused by the rip currents, the Japan Life Saving Association deployed the seaside MIMAMORI(watch over) system that automatically detects the currents by analyzing images from webcams installed on the beach in real time and notifying swimmers' smartphones. For prompt lifesaving, if the current catches a person, a rescue request is sent to the lifesaver's smartwatch. The system will also notify swimmers' smartphones of the occurrence of offshore wind to alert them. (Research and development cooperation; Chuo University)
This system is deployed at four locations in mainland, corporate with local government.
Japan Life Saving Association (Japanese)
Two YouTubes in the page showing;
- AI system detects the rip current.
- Example of AI detection of the rip current and rescue by lifesavers.
AI detects the occurrence of rip currents (yellow frame), detects swimmers caught in the current area (red frame), and alerts lifesavers' smartwatches with a rescue request to enable prompt rescue.
Other information in this website. (English page)
Updated on 22nd September 2023
Okinawa marine leisure service provide list updated
The Okinawa Prefectural Police Headquarters has released a list of service providers that meet police safety requirements under the Water Safety Ordinance as of September 22, for your reference. (Japanese only)
Updated on 15th September 2023
Water Accident Statistics in Okinawa prefecture during August
Okinawa prefectural police headquarter released a tentative statistic for water accident statistics for August. More accident occurred compared Y2022.
- Safety messages from the police
- Be very aware that water is dangerous!
- Do not underestimate the power of nature!
- Do not overestimate your own physical strength, knowledge and skills
- Wear life jackets and other buoyant equipment
- Use snorkels properly
- Do not go alone, stay with group
- Promote water accident prevention to the elderly and children
Memo from OHS
- You can learn about water safety and risk mitigation at sea in the following resource.
Water Safety (OIST e-front)
Okinawa Marine Safety (Okinawa Prefectural Police)
Updated on 8th September 2023
11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarter released water related accident statistics
According to the Okinawa times, https://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/articles/-/1207973 (Japanese only), the number of water-related accidents in Okinawa Prefecture involving middle-aged and older adults aged 50 and over is increasing. According to the Coast Guard Headquarters, the number of people over the age of 50 who have been involved in water accidents in Okinawa Prefecture this year is 106 (preliminary figures) as of August 17, with 53, or half of the total, being over 50 years old. The officials in charge of the 11 districts are urging people to take care of their physical condition and enjoy their leisure time in the sea.
Of the 40 fatalities or missing, 80%, or 30 people, were 50 years old or older.
Among water accidents, snorkeling accidents accounted for the most significant number of marine leisure accidents (17), while 12, or 70%, were 50 years old or older.
This year, the five snorkeling fatalities were not limited to middle-aged and older adults, and none were wearing life jackets.
Tips for water safety:
- Avoid going alone, stay with groups. That way there will be more potential help available and a higher opportunity of prompt response in the event of an emergency.
- Obtain information on the day’s weather and sea condition.
- Postpone activities if unfavorable weather is predicted.
- Let someone know, such as your family or friends where you are going, what activity is planned, with whom and what time you expect to return. So that emergency response organization will be able to respond in early stage in case of emergency.
- Do not allow your children to swim alone. Accompany them all times and watch over them until they are out of the water.
- Securing the buoyancy by wearing life jacket or wetsuits
- Take necessary training from professional when using equipment such as underwater mask, snorkel, fins, paddle boat, SUP etc, to make sure your skills are adequate for the condition.
Updated on 1st September 2023
Okinawa prefecture has extended the period of the box jellyfish advisory to 30 September 2023
Reports of injuries from encounters with box jellyfish are on the rise this year and these creatures seem to be in abundance along Okinawa beaches.
Please visit the links for details and, the advisories include prevention measures and first aid.
Updated on 25th August 2023
Marine safety product introduction: Personal Locater Beacon (PLB)
A PLB is a device that notifies the Japan Coast Guard via satellite when an individual fall overboard or drifts away from a vessel, etc. and reports the distress to the Coast Guard. The PLB can be used only in the case of maritime distress when the PLB is licensed as an automatic distress reporting station.
Updated on 18th August 2023
Okinawa prefectural police release warning message about Stung by Habu Kurage (Box Jellyfish)
On August 11, two incidents of swimmers were stung by Habu Kurage on beaches in the northern part of the main island. Both were children, and one of them became unconscious after being stung, and recovered by doctor’s treatment who attended there coincidentally, then transferred to the hospital by ambulance.
Remove the tentacles by pouring vinegar on the affected area, cool it with ice, etc., and then take to a medical institution.
Be sure to include vinegar in your beach safety kit which and be used to remove jellyfish tentacles.
-How to avoid?
Stings can be avoided by wearing reef shoes and long-sleeved rash guards and scanning the area carefully before jumping into the water.
Stay safe, and look/think before you swim.
Updated on 4th August 2023
Websites relating water safety
- Created by US Marines Camp Butler Base Safety Office
*Topics example: Snorkeling safety videoOcean safety video, and more
*External website links for weather and sea condition
- Created by Okinawa Prefectural Police
Okinawa Marine Safety Portal (Japanese only)
*Topic example: How to enjoy sea of Okinawa safely
*External website links for Windy, Weather forecast, Recommended marine business entities, and more
Updated on 21st July 2023
Typhoon #5 is approaching!
Typhoon #5 (called Tokusuri) has formed and is moving toward the Okinawa region while developing.
Category forecast when it is near Okinawa region: Very strong
33m/sec, 64knots～44m/sec, 85knots
44m/sec, 85knots～54m/sec, 105knots
Link Japan weather association jp tenki
- Anticipated situation:
Streams and ditches swollen by rain make it difficult to see boundaries, causing accidents such as falls. Landslides and landslides are also more likely to occur. Even in places that are usually considered safe, be on your guard and avoid dangerous places unnecessarily.
When a typhoon approaches and becomes a storm, there is a risk of objects being blown away by the wind, being hit by flying objects, or having your car overturned. Also, hands and fingers can get caught in doors and fences.
- Tips for action:
Avoid going out unnecessarily and wait until the typhoon has passed. Waves near the coast often become high before the typhoon approaches, and the sea level is high for some time while the typhoon passes. When a typhoon is coming, do not go out to see high waves at sea or near the coast. Stay home, stay safe!
Updated on 14th July 2023
Diving safety for drift diving, lesson learnt from the incident at Itoman July 19, 2023
What is Drift diving?
Divers enter the water from a boat and move through the water with the current.
The boat follows the diver by following the SMB（Surface Marker Buoy）towed by the diver, by tracking the exhaust bubbles and predicting where the diver will surface and meet up with the diver.
Weather: Cloudy, wind 10 meters south-southwest, wave height 2 meters
The number of divers: 5 guest divers and two instructors.
- 11:50: 600 meters northeast of Lukang Reef: Boat captain found no diver beneath the SMB, then called 118 (Coast Guard). Coast Guard and police helicopter began search and rescue operation.
- 13:55 Found 6 persons with no injuries at 4 km southeast of Lukang Reef,
- 14:45 Found one person (who chased the boat) with no injury at 1 km southeast of Lukang Reef,
Lesson learnt from this incident
- All the members understand overall schedule and procedure on in case of trouble. Check with the guide/instructor and boat captain. Example: weather/sea condition, time schedule, dive plan (team formation, dive path, maximum depth, dive time, residual pressure)
- Know that boat and divers may be drifted in different direction.
- Guide is to dive according to the dive plan
- Boat captain keeps eye on not only the diver position, but also be aware of other boat traffic around them, and time management.
- To provide communication device with boat captain, such as
a) Whistle, dive buzzer 【audio device】
b) SMB, light, signal mirror 【visual device】
c) GPS, PLB(Personal Locator Beacon)【radio device】
Updated on 7th July 2023
Safe and secure life on leisure in sea and river
The Okinawa prefectural police are taking various measures to prevent water accidents so that many people can enjoy leisure activities in the sea and rivers while coexisting with water.
Remember that water accidents are not someone else's problem but that everyone involved in water can become a party at any time.
To prevent drowning accidents
- Be aware that water is dangerous
Humans are constantly breathing to live. Even if they cannot move or faint, they can still survive in an environment where they can breathe, but not in water. Always be aware that one wrong decision may lead to death, and try to mitigate the risk.
- Please don't underestimate the power of nature
Humans, no matter how good they are at swimming, cannot win against the forces of nature. ( Example: cannot swim against the rip current)
Okinawa Island faces the open ocean and is directly affected by tidal currents, waves, and wind.
When a typhoon is approaching or the weather is unfavorable for the activity, never go near the coast. There have been cases of people coming to the shore out of curiosity, with disastrous consequences.
- Do not overestimate your own physical strength, knowledge, and skills
Swimming or floating in water is a tough exercise that consumes your physical strength. Always consider your age, physical strength, and the time you can spend in the water area, and never enter the sea if you consume alcohol or are feeling unwell.
Also, don't let your guard down just because you have experience of leisure activities on the sea or river. Collecting information in advance about the presence or absence of dangerous spots and precautions is essential.
- Wear a buoyancy device such as a life jacket
When snorkeling, fishing, SUP, canoeing, clam digging, etc., be sure to wear a life jacket or a buoyant wet suit.
Buoyancy floats the body on the surface, making it easier to secure breathing, and it also helps preserve physical strength in the event of a water accident.
- Use your snorkel correctly
Snorkeling is one of the marine leisure activities that you can easily access. Still, there have been many water accidents involving local residents and tourists, such as ingesting seawater due to improper use of snorkels.
When snorkeling, wear the following 4-piece set and enjoy snorkeling like floating. ① Mask, ② snorkel, ③ Fins, ④ Life jacket: Taking proper training before going to the sea is highly recommended.
- No solo participant
Leisure on the sea or river alone carries the risk of a serious water accident. To safely enjoy marine leisure, please have company and never lose sight of another person. It also leads to arranging prompt rescue calls in the event of a water accident.
- Encourage older people and children to prevent accidents
People aged 50 and over account for 60% of the deaths caused by water accidents in Okinawa, and the fatality rate of water accidents increases proportionally with age.
Encourage older people who go out to catch fish or shellfish to wear life jackets and refrain from water activity when feeling unwell.
Also, do not allow children to swim alone; even if a guardian accompanies them, watch over the children until they get out of the water.
Shop selection for the marine activities
Okinawa Prefecture Ordinance Concerning Prevention of Water Accidents and Ensuring the Safety of Swimmers (Abbreviation: Water Safety Ordinance)
Okinawa Prefecture has enacted the Water Safety Ordinance to prevent water accidents to protect sea users' lives, bodies, and property.
- Notification is required to engage in the marine leisure business
In Okinawa prefecture, some industries require notice the Public Safety Commission when operating a business related to marine leisure. (Shop operating without the notice is subject to penalties.)
If you use a marine leisure shop, please confirm that they notified the Public Safety Commission, and please provide the commission information if you found the non-notified shop.
〈Links to police website: industries that notified: Japanese language〉
- Beach 39 beaches notified
- Scuba diving business 1103 shops notified
- Snorkeling business 1031 shops notified
- Pleasure boat business 1307 shops notified
Memo from OHS
- You can learn about water safety and risk mitigation at sea in the following resource: Water safety