Hawaii Lifeguards Gathering Safety Data On Snorkeling Incidents

Snorkeling man in full face mask

The question of whether full-face snorkeling masks are safe to use is still being asked, with limited answers so far.

Over the past year, officials in Maui County, Hawaii have been gathering data on the specific type of snorkeling equipment used in drowning incidents.

Local authorities are looking into whether full-face snorkel masks might have safety issues following a recent pair of drownings involving those masks.

Two men from California drowned on separate days last month while wearing them off Kihei, according to the Maui News.

Hawaii Fire Services Chief Ed Taomoto said:

“Recently, we have noticed that a number of snorkel-related drownings or near drownings have involved these new one-piece masks, but it is too early to make any sort of connection to the use of this equipment and drownings. . . . We’re not sure if the increase in incidents involving these new full-face type masks is related to a problem with this design or if there is just more people using this type over the traditional two-piece snorkel set.”

Colin Yamamoto, a former Maui County Ocean Safety Battalion Chief, also emphasized it was too early to say whether full-faced snorkel masks are dangerous:

“We are not at that point yet, because we don’t have the data to back it up. Yes, we had some incidents where people drowned. We have some incidents people had nonfatal (cases) with the one-piece masks. (But) the majority of drowning deaths is with the traditional two-piece.”