The first large swell of the season — up to 20 foot-tall breakers are predicted for Friday and Saturday — is a reminder to be wary when exploring local beaches.

Fall is the time of year when residents and visitors enjoy the beauty of the ever-changing shoreline and the thrill of beachcombing and wave watching.

By all means, have a great time, but never turn your back on the sea.

Every year there are reports of people being swept off beaches, rocks and jetties by sneaker waves along the Oregon Coast. Even the simple act of walking a dog on the beach can and has turned fatal.

Experts say the best thing to do when a pet enters the water is nothing. The average dog is a better swimmer than the average human and has a better chance of making it back to shore.

We urge beachgoers to practice extreme caution during their seaside adventures. 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.

And, if walking your dog, consider taking Fido or Fifi to the park instead.

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