The beach is a beautiful place to play, and the in-and-out pattern of the waves can lull you into thinking you can predict the course of the next waves. However, there are a few dangers that you’d be wise to watch for.
1. ALWAYS expect sneaker waves!
‘Sneaker waves’ are higher than normal waves. They appear without warning, often surging high up on the beach with deadly force. Sneaker waves have enough force to knock you down and drag you into the ocean. They appear even on calm days, but are especially prevalent during the winter months. They often occur during stormy weather. Sneaker waves also carry a large amount of sand that can saturate your clothes, weighing you down and making escape difficult.
How to play it safe: NEVER turn your back on the ocean.
2. Watch for Rising Tides
Rising tides cause waves to wash farther and farther up the beach and making it easy to be caught off guard by a sneaker wave. They can also cut off hiking trails around headlands, forcing you to walk dangerously close to the surf. Incoming tides isolate rocks from headlands and the shore. Never walk out to an interesting rock without knowing when the tide rolls back in.
How to play it safe: Before you go out to the beach check the tide charts and know when the tides will be changing. Free tide tables are readily available at state park offices, information centers and many shops. Here’s the Waldport, Oregon tide table.
3. Stay off driftwood and logs
Beaches along the northern Pacific coast frequently have water-soaked logs flung to shore after storms. 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: Stay off logs, especially ones near the waterline.
4. Learn to recognize rip currents
If YOU are caught in a rip current, don’t panic. Don’t fight the current. Swim parallel to the beach until you are out of the current, then head for the beach.
How to play it safe:
Talk to your kids about beach safety.
- Put life vests on children if they are going to be in or near the water.
- Keep a constant and vigilant watch on the children and the waves.
- Keep children and pets close to adults.
- Move everyone away if waves become larger.
- Remind them NEVER turn your back on the ocean.
If YOU go into the water whether for fun or by accident:
- Stay calm. You will make better decisions and save your strength
- Call for help. Yell and wave to catch the attention of someone on shore
- If you can, swim slowly and steadily to the beach.
If SOMEONE ELSE goes into the water and they are in trouble:
- Stay Calm. You will make better decisions.
- Don’t go in the water. Most rescuers don’t survive! Keep an eye on the person in the water!
- Call 9-1-1. Use a cell phone or immediately send someone to the nearest phone to call for help.
5. Tsunami Hazards
Tsunamis are exceedingly rare, but can be triggered by a nearby earthquake, or by one far out to sea.
Remember, YOU HAVE 2 MINUTES TO GET 100 FEET UP!
If ever you feel an earthquake, go immediately to higher ground. If you look on the Waldport Evacuation Brochure, our vacation home is in the green zone, and should be a safe place in the case of a Tsunami. If you are down on the beach or in the lower parts of the Bayshore neighborhood, you should immediately head to higher ground.
In case of an earthquake or a Tsunami, the designated meeting place for our neighborhood is the Bayshore Beach Rental parking lot, at the entrance to the neighborhood. (You drove right past it as you turned into the neighborhood on the way to our beach house.) There’s where you should head if you’re down at the beach, and there is where anyone should wait to meet someone in the neighborhood that they’re worried about. To be prepared in case of this unlikely happening, study the Waldport Evacuation Brochure so that you will know what to do and where to go.
How to play it safe: Make sure your whole party knows where the nearest high ground area is, as well as the designated meeting place for your area. If ever you feel an earthquake, or hear the Tsunami siren, head for your designated meeting place immediately.
Finally, enjoy your vacation! The beach is a beautiful place to explore, and chances are excellent that with a little preparation, you will never have a problem. But keeping these safety tips in mind will help keep your family safe even if the ocean is surprising.
(Credit for the majority of this post goes to The Sea Ranch at Abalone Bay. Thanks so much for this great info!)