Common sense and caution are your best friends when playing on the coast. Pay attention, heed warning signs, follow these safety tips, and respect Mother Nature on land and sea.
Be safe on the beach
Enjoying Oregon’s beaches requires some caution. Ocean waves and debris can pose a hazard. The Oregon State Park and Recreation Department offers beach safety tips.
They’re called sneaker waves because they appear without warning, often surging high up on the beach with deadly force, and are impossible to predict. Sneaker waves also carry a large amount of sand that can saturate your clothes, weighing you down and making escape difficult, if not impossible.
How to play it safe: Never turn your back on the ocean.
Watch those logs
Four inches of water can lift a 5-ton log. The ocean is strong enough to pick up even the biggest log and plop it down on top of you. Some logs may look small, but even the tiny ones can be waterlogged and weigh tons.
How to play it safe: If you see a log in the surf or on wet sand, stay off it.
Rip currents are strong currents of water that rush out to sea. They are stronger than even the best swimmer. These currents can swiftly sweep unwary beachcombers and waders off their feet and out to sea. Rip currents may appear as dark, choppy water. Any time you see debris and foam floating out to sea, chances are you have found a rip current. Avoid the area.
How to play it safe: Parents, keep your kids close when playing in the ocean. If caught in a rip current, don’t panic. Swim parallel to the beach until you are out of the current, then head for the beach.
Know the tides
Incoming tides isolate rocks from headlands and the shore. Avoid the temptation to stroll out to an interesting rock without knowing when the tide rolls back in. Free tide tables are readily available at state park offices, information centers, and many shops and motels.
How to play it safe: Stay off rocks and small, enclosed beaches. Know when the tide is coming in. You may obtain tide tables by visiting the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website. Click here for the Garibaldi tide tables.
Large waves can reach you
Tides and waves can sweep over rocks, jetties and headlands, knocking you off and carrying you out to sea.
How to play it safe: Assume nothing is “high enough” and avoid exposed rocks, jetties and headlands during strong wave action (especially during and after storms).
Beware of high, steep cliffs
Assume that all cliff edges are unstable. Wet trails or soft sand and earth can make for precarious footing. Rocks can be slippery even when it isn’t raining.
How to play it safe: Make sure you wear proper footwear, and stick to the trails. Stay behind guard fences and railings, and don’t get too close to the edge.
Standing at the base of an oceanside cliff can be dangerous, especially if it has an overhang. In some places, winter storms and high waves have eroded the shoreline, increasing the chance of collapse and slides.
How to play it safe: Beware of falling rocks, and don’t climb on bluffs and eroding hillsides. Don’t walk along the base of cliffs unless absolutely necessary.
Heed nature’s warnings
Get the facts and be prepared in case of a tsunami.