When spring-time arrives, many folks head for the Oregon coast where there’s plenty of elbow room to stretch out and play.
But this season there are sobering reminders that staying safe while having fun on the sand requires caution, knowledge and awareness –
“You’re in a setting and situation where you can’t control everything, so you need to reduce your vulnerability to some of those things that you can control.”
Robert Smith is the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Beach Safety expert and he recently said that people who visit the coastline should be aware of their environment – it is dynamic and changing all of the time.
For example, Smith noted that there are timbers in the tides – logs that is, washed down river, pushed out of the coastal bays and then wash up on the beach. They are often huge and dangerous. As little as four inches of water can float a five-ton log.
“Logs move! It’s that simple,” said Smith. “A log can roll over on top of you and I have seen them spin like helicopter rotors in the surf. If you’re anywhere near that, it could be a bad deal.”
That’s true for logs washed up on the beach as well. They’ve often been pushed by recent storms and are still able to move about, so don’t play in and among log piles that have been strewn about. They’re unstable so stay off them.
Meanwhile, down in the surf line, Smith offered that so called sneaker waves will "get you if you don’t watch out!”
“The sneaker waves come in sets of unusually large weaves and are carried further up the beach, noted Smith. “These waves can carry debris, perhaps a log and could knock you over or even carry you out to sea. So, these are very dangerous and you should never turn your back to the sea. Be aware of your surroundings.”
Finally, be aware and cautious of the rocks - either rocky headlands or even bedrocks on the beach. These areas can fool into thinking all is well because they seem so stable – rock solid - until the tide comes in that is.
Smith said that’s what recently happened to a man who found himself holding on for dear life on rocky patch of beach near Newport, Oregon.
“You could see the waves breaking in the distance but then all of a sudden he was completely surrounded by the ocean.”
Smith added that anyone who comes to play on the beach should carry a tide table with them – it’s a tool that provides valuable information of the high and low tides – that’s information that could help you to stay safe.
“The tide tables are free at state park offices and campgrounds and remember that we have two low tides everyday and we have two high tides everyday. Knowing when the tide’s coming in is just a great way to up that safety quotient when you go to the coast.”
Finally, make sure all family members understand that the beach is a wonderful place to play – but set some ground rules as family members, especially youngsters who head out for a well deserved spring and summer break.
“Take some time before you actually go down on the sand,” offered Smith.“Chat with your family tell them to watch the ocean and get a feel for the rhythm for the ocean. That way, if something different happens, you may be a little more attuned to it, so take some time to become accustomed to your surroundings.”