When visiting the scenic Oregon coast and participating in recreational activities, safety should be a prime concern. Tragic water accidents can happen quickly and we recommend the following safety tips:
- Follow posted regulations.
- The ocean in this area is normally 55 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. In these temperatures, it takes just minutes for hypothermia to set in.
- Supervise children closely.
- Stay clear of coastal bluffs. They can collapse and cause injury.
- Never turn your back to the ocean. You may be swept off coastal bluffs, beaches or tide pool areas and into the water by “sneaker” waves that can come without warning.
- Be aware of sneaker waves, even on the calmest days. 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. Don’t turn your back on the ocean and keep your eye on the surf.
- Have your beach access available to you at all times. A big wave can come right up to a seawall, leaving you no path for safety.
- Do not climb up onto logs on the beach. While they look heavy and sturdy when climbing on them, the smallest wave will roll it over you or a child. Killer logs are real.
- Stay on accessible high ground when storm-agitated surf is on the beach. Oregon State Parks maintains dozens of safe roadside parks and campground access points right along Highway 101 where you can get great photos of dramatic winter surf without endangering yourself.
- If you are in trouble, call or wave for help.
- Dress for the weather. Layer your clothes to provide you warmth and comfort. And carry along your rain gear to keep you dry when it does drizzle.
- No beach fires except in designated areas.
- Tides and waves can sweep over rocks, jetties and headlands, knocking you off and carrying you out to sea.
- Incoming tides isolate rocks from headlands and the shore. Avoid the temptation of strolling 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. You can also find this information by visiting the tidetable website from the Hatfield Marine Science Center.
Take care around high, steep cliffs
Assume that all cliff edges are unstable. Wet trails or soft sand and earth can make for unstable footing. Rocks can be slippery even when it isn’t raining. 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 collapsing landforms and slides. Beware of falling rocks, and don’t climb on bluffs and eroding hillsides. Don’t walk along the base of cliffs unless absolutely necessary.