Heading to the Oregon coast? ‘Respect power of the waves’

Oregon Coast

Rescue calls have gone up 40% since September 2020

CANNON BEACH, Ore. (KOIN) — The triple-digit heat is baking the Portland metro and a large part of Oregon. But it’s quite a bit cooler at the Oregon coast, so it’s no surprise people are flocking out to the beach.

But there are some things you’re going to want to know if you go to the coast. For one thing, the water temperature has been in the upper 40s when the daily average temp should be around 55.

“Hypothermia can set in in 15 minutes when it’s that cold,” Head Lifeguard Jesse Parker told KOIN 6 News. But despite the cold water temps — and the much cooler air temperature — Parker said the beach is filled.

“It’s like ants on a potato chip,” he said. “Just packed.”

Parker also reminded beachgoers about the rip currents in the ocean and that rocks — like Haystack Rock — creates rip currents. The best thing is to stay out of spots where you could be caught in a rip current.

Cannon Beach Lifeguards — Facebook

“Basically the idea of the rip current is that it’s a current that goes out to the open ocean,” he said. “If you can keep your head above water, it will dissipate when it gets out into the open ocean and then swim perpendicular, get out of it, and then waves will push you back to shore.”

Cannon Beach Fire Chief Marc Reckmann agreed with Parker.

“There’s a lot of riptides in the ocean,” Reckmann said. “Stay with your kids.”

Even though there are lifeguards at Cannon Beach, there are so many people at the beach it’s hard for the lifeguards to cover everything.

“In June we saw a lot of rescues, a lot of water rescues,” Reckmann said, “especially around the rocks. That’s where the tides really are.”

Tourists along the Oregon coast aren’t always aware of the riptides and sneaker waves, he said. “Inexperienced surfers get out in Indian Beach and they don’t know what those waves will do.”

Reckmann said rescue calls have gone up 40% since September 2020. “We’re extremely busy with an extremely small amount of volunteers,” he said.

And he had one more reminder for everyone coming to the coast this weekend.

“This weekend is going to be hot, it’s going to be dry,” he told KOIN 6 News. “Please keep your beach fires away from the beach” and dump water on the fire when you’re done with it.

The Oregon heat wave will send thousands of people to the coast for some relief. But lifeguard Jesse Parker has one final reminder.

“Never turn your back on the ocean,” he said. “Respect the power of the waves. It’s cold.”

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