Nine people have drowned on the Hawaiian island of Maui in the last 13 days. Not all were snorkelers, but some were. They were found dead in the water with their snorkel sets on.
These were the new one-piece "full face" snorkel sets that have the mask and breathing tube fused together.
Hawaiian authorities are investigating the possibility that carbon dioxide builds up inside of these sets, killing people.
Source: Maui Alliance of Community Associations
“In the last few weeks Maui has experienced an unprecedented spike in ocean drowning incidents,” said Maui County Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto, quoted by the MauiNow news service.
CBS News reported today that three men from Northern California's East Bay region each died in separate snorkeling incidents in Maui. The sites were on the southwest coast of Maui.
According to the article, high surf was not to blame: "That part of Maui is typically sheltered from big surf during the wintertime unless there’s a swell from the west, which hasn’t happened in the last two weeks."
Fire Chief Taomoto added authorities in Hawaii have noticed a recent increase in the number of snorkel-related drownings or near drownings that have involved the one-piece masks.
If the one-piece snorkel sets are to blame, then these are a dangerous product and their manufacturers should be liable for wrongful death. Shame on them. Don’t they test these things for safety before putting them on the market?
One piece, full face style. Source: Scuba.com
Ladies and gentlemen, please do yourself a favor. If you come to Hawaii or another warm-water destination on vacation, DO NOT use one of the one-piece snorkel sets. Snorkeling is a fun activity that brings you closer to the colorful fish in our bounteous ocean. But please use normal swim goggles or an older-style snorkel set with the breathing tube attached OUTSIDE the mask.
The older kind, with the separate breathing tube, apparently has not had these issues
Meanwhile, it's important not to jump to conclusions without more research, but it sounds quite possible that these mask manufacturers may have some explaining to do.
Source: Disney Aulani Resort