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A Trip to the Coast - Podcast

Health and Wellness, Podcast

There's nothing like a trip to the Oregon Coast. But amid the beautiful and inviting scenery are real dangers. In this episode we're talking about some simple ways to stay safe when we visit the coast.

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In this Episode

  • CJ Anderson
  • Andy Long, Tillamook County Sheriff
  • Mary Faith Bell

Water associated risks

Temperature. While lakes and rivers may be colder in the winter the Pacific Ocean along the Oregon Coast is actually colder in the summer than the winter. With water temperatures in the 40's and 50's the average adult may not survive longer than 30 minutes if they're stranded in cold water.

High Water. Winter storms and spring snowmelt can raise the level of rivers and cause swifter currents.

Debris. High winter waters wash logs and driftwood out to the coast. As the surf brings them to shore they pose risks for people in the water. But even on shore logs can be dangerous. A two-ton log can be rolled by as little as three inches of water.

Sneaker Waves. When a larger swell overtakes a small one at the shore it can cause a sneaker wave that washes much further up the beach. Waves are especially dangerous on narrow beaches with limited ways of getting to high ground.

Rip Currents. As waves break on the beach they will naturally feed toward the lowest point on their way back to the ocean. The lower the point the more water will flow this way and create a stronger current. If you're caught in a rip current don't try to fight it. Allowing the current to take you a little ways out will get you out of the strongest part of the current. As soon as possible try to swim parallel to the beach until you feel you are out of the current and then swing toward shore. 

How to stay safe

Pay attention to all posted signs and warnings. Use them as cues for the kinds of risks you should look for at a particular beach.

Take your time to observe the beach and ocean. Identify the potential risks. Look for the low points and channels at low tide. Those are areas likely to have rip currents. A flatter beach means each wave will break farther up the shore (sneaker waves will break even further) and a steeper beach may be harder to get off of when the tide comes in fast.

Wear a life jacket. If you're going to be in or near the water it's the right choice. Especially for kids. The cold water in the Pacific will sap your energy

Don't plan to be a hero. If a true emergency situation arises trying to rescue your loved one will likely be more than you can handle.

If you are going into the water take regular breaks so your body can warm back up. If your kids are in the water make sure they are taking breaks too.

Don't dig or tunnel into sand dunes or under rocks. Sand is unstable and will cave in.

Pay attention to where plants are growing. If an area is free from vegetation it's likely because the ground is unstable or it's within reach of the surf.

Have fun, but remember that no memory is worth jeopardizing your life or the lives of your loved ones.

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