By Justin Mock, Wellness Coordinator, Adventist Health
After a long, rainy winter, we are all ready for some sunshine and outdoor activity. And one of the best places to do that is the beach. But before you dive into those icy blue depths, be sure to run through this safety checklist from Eric Swanson, Executive Director of Strategy and Business Development at Tillamook Regional Medical Center.
With 33 years of experience in emergency medical services and 28 years of experience in law enforcement, Eric has seen many summers on our Tillamook County beaches and knows what you need to watch out for and how to keep yourself safe.
Here are Eric’s six tips for a fun and safe time at the beach!
1. Don’t turn your back on the ocean
During a fun day at the beach, it can be easy to lose track of your surroundings. However, always be sure to keep an eye on the ocean to watch out for sneaker waves. A sneaker wave is a larger wave that occurs amid smaller waves, seeming to come out of nowhere. These waves can be dangerous and have the power to sweep you into the ocean.
2. Look out for logs
While driftwood may float and bob in the surf as if it weighs nothing at all, those logs can be massive and carry enough weight to cause serious injury or death. Stay away from logs in the surf or even on wet sand. It only takes a few inches of water to move or roll a several-ton log.
3. Keep the cold in mind
Even on a sunny day, the average Oregon Coast ocean temperature is 55°F or colder. In a matter of minutes, hypothermia can set in, causing even the strongest swimmer to drown. So if you plan to get in the water, play it safe and wear a wetsuit.
4. Save spelunking for another time
While Oregon’s beaches often have beautiful sand dunes, refrain from digging caves on the beach or dunes. Cave-ins can be very dangerous.
5. Careful on the cliffs
Oregon’s beaches have some of the most beautiful cliffs and shoreline along the west coast. Just remember, cliffs and shoreline are constantly shifting and moving, so always obey signs and keep a watchful eye.
6. Know how to ride out a rip current
Stronger than even the best swimmer, rip currents are dangerous currents of water that rush out to sea. If you become caught in a rip current, stay calm and swim parallel to the beach instead of swimming directly back towards it.
With these six tips in mind, you, your friends and family can have a safe time at the beach. Remember, a safe day is a fun day.