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Avoid tragedy when visiting beaches

As the first winter storms and accompanying large swells roll across the South Coast, we urge residents and visitors to exercise caution when visiting local beaches.

Experts have predicted several high tides the rest of this month which, combined with high seas, is a good reason to hit local beaches and do some wave watching and beachcombing (See Page 1B for our story on local wave watching.)

It also means beach visitors should practice extreme caution while enjoying our wild, wonderful coast.

The resulting tidal surges – especially if accompanied by a strong storm – are dangerous for boaters and beachcombers, creating unpredictable, sharp-breaking waves that could claim a life.

So far, there have been no reports of people in Curry County being swept from the beach by waves. However, last year several people had close calls and a Crescent City man died  when a wave swept him off a jetty there. High surf and dangerous beach conditions will remain a constant along our shore through spring.

If you visit the beach to witness the wave action yourself, please practice a little common sense. Sneaker waves can sweep people away in the blink of an eye.

Winter waves also pose a danger to recreational boaters. Rogue waves have been blamed for several fatal boat accidents in Curry County in recent years.

In many cases, the victims were not wearing life jackets, which would have increased the their chances of survival. It’s nearly impossible to find a life jacket and put one on after a boat has capsized or is swamped.

To help avoid tragedy, we offer the following tips when on or near the ocean:

Never turn your back on it. Stay off jetties or any low flat beach. Stay away from edges of cliffs, headlands and rocks where waves are breaking nearby. Never climb on driftwood, especially when waves are high.

The Oregon Coast is a beautiful place in winter. It’s also dangerous. Please be careful.

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