For many people, the beach is a place of refuge. It’s where they go to refresh their minds from stresses at work or school, and to enjoy the sun and surf with their family. It’s a beautiful unknown, but it is both calming and dangerous. Old Town Inn would like to invite you to explore our central Oregon coastline beaches with a few beach safety tips.
Beware of the Water
The ocean tides are the most beautiful and meditative part of the ocean for most guests. But, it’s important to remember that within that serene ebb and flow are real dangers. Mother Nature can be quick and unpredictable in her actions, so mind the water.
- Rule #1 – Do not turn your back to the ocean. This is especially important when jumping waves, playing in the wet sand, or beachcombing in it. Even when up higher in the dry sand, keep an eye on the water.
- Rip Currents – A rip current is a strong current flowing back into the sea after breaking on the beach. You can see rip currents if you look closely, as they often carry muddy sediment and debris from the beach out to the sea. They can pull your feet out from under you and you’ll be carried out too. You can recover if you’re pulled into the sea by swimming parallel to the beach until you are no longer in the current. If you’re not strong in your swimming abilities, tread water and call for help. Keep your children close by when you’re at the beach, as these currents can catch them fast.
- Sneaker Waves – As their name suggests, these strong and sudden waves can sneak up on a person. They can easily knock your feet out from under you and sweep you out to sea. Similar to rip currents, you can recover from a sneaker wave by swimming parallel to the beach. Keep an eye on the ocean at all times; don’t let your guard down because these waves sneak up suddenly and without warning.
- High Tide – Before visiting the beach, check the local tide tables. We have tide tables at our front desk, but they are also available online at the Hatfield Marine Science Center website, and at visitor centers along the Oregon Coast. The tide coming in can strand you on rocky outcrops, coastal caves, tidepools, and isolated beaches. Before exploring these areas, know when the tides will be coming in, and know how high they’ll come on your beach.
- Tsunamis – While they aren’t common on the Oregon coastline, you should still be aware of what tsunamis are and how they form. Any coastline can experience tsunamis to some extent. A tsunami is caused by the massive displacement of water through a seismic shift; this usually means an earthquake. There are two kinds of tsunami warnings you may experience.
- A local event is when you feel the earthquake. Take cover until the shaking stops and immediately proceed to higher ground following posted tsunami route signs.
- A distant event is when the earthquake or event occurs out in the ocean. You will hear sirens around the city, and you should proceed to higher ground using the posted tsunami route signs.
- The City of Florence tests its tsunami warning sirens at 11:00 a.m. on the last Friday of every month. Sirens sound and are immediately followed by “Westminster Chime” tones as the “all-clear” announcement.
Mind the Environment
Part of the joy of visiting the beach is picking up driftwood and seashells. It’s important to remember that the beach is a functioning ecosystem and should be respected and cared for. Be cautious of your surroundings while exploring the beach.
- Logs – It may seem like a giant heavy log isn’t going anywhere, but the ocean is strong. If you see a log in the water or on the wet sand, stay away from it. Incoming tides can lift it off the sand and drop it back on you, or carry you into the surf on it. Even a small wave can roll a massive log on top of you.
- Rocks and Jetties – Jetties are meant to keep ships and fishing boats safe. Large crashing waves on jetties can sweep you off your feet, pulling you into the ocean or causing injuries on the rocks and barnacles.
- Cliffs and Rocks – By the very nature of the coast, rain and harsh water can erode away cliff faces and hillsides. Avoid walking at the base below, or above on the edge of a cliff, as the rock or sandstone can crumble and fall, causing injury or death.
When walking on coastal trails, wear appropriate clothing and footwear to protect yourself from slips and falls. Stay on paths and behind protective fences. They are in place to protect you as well as to protect the delicate ecosystems you’re exploring.
Visiting the beach is a great way to make memories and spend time with friends and family. Remember to protect yourself against nature and stay safe. Here are a few additional tips about playing outdoors on the beach.
- Sunscreen – Even in overcast weather, you can get a sunburn. Remember to wear sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself against the harsh UV rays and reflected light from the waves.
- Bonfires – Only build and light fires in designated areas, and make sure they are completely put out with water when you leave. Too many barefooted beachgoers have been burned by the hot sand tossed on top of a beach fire. Keep your gear far enough away to avoid catching it on fire.
- No Glass – Keep your beer bottles and wine glasses at home; instead, bring out plastic or stainless steel drinking containers. Broken glass is easily lost in the sand and can cause serious injury to yourself or to other beach goers if they step on it.
- Avoid Excessive Alcohol – Alcohol and the ocean don’t mix well. It’s romantic to think about drinking a bottle of wine with a loved one on the beach at sunset. But, remember, the ocean can be unpredictable. And alcohol can impair our judgment, making the situation unsafe. If you want to drink, do so far up on the beach and in moderation.
Other Beach Fun
Florence, Oregon, boasts some of the most beautiful coastal views, hiking trails, and fresh seafood on the West Coast. If you are looking for activities that put you close to the ocean without being on the beach, we have plenty to offer.
Just a short walk from Old Town Inn, you’ll find antique shops, delicious dining, art galleries, and more. A short drive puts you in range of miles of uncrowded beaches, golfing, horseback riding on the beach, sand dune adventures, lakes, streams, and neighboring towns full of shops and activities.
We look forward to seeing you soon!