Be aware of dangers lurking on the coast

Be aware of dangers lurking on the coast »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. - Aaron Bretz has been working along the Washington and Oregon coast for about 13 years.

The senior chief petty officer with the U.S. Coast Guard said waves coming inland on the Oregon Coast are very dangerous.

A series of waves bring water over the rocks, catch people by surprise - and can pull them into the water.

He said about three incidents like this happen every year.

“As the waves come in from off shore," he said, "as soon as it meets an obstruction like some rocks it very quickly and violently stands up and breaks.”

But these waves, also known as sneaker waves, aren't the only dangers lurking on the Oregon Coast. The rocks along the coast also are dangerous. They often have cuts in them that have appeared due to erosion.
“Sometimes people venture out to the end of a jetty and they get hit by a wave and the wind up getting knocked down and they injure themselves by breaking bones on the rocks,” said Bretz.

And if you happen to fall in to the water, it’s the temperature that delivers the next shock. Bretz said the water temperature along the coast is usually 50 degrees and lower.

“If you don’t have the kind of protective gear on against the water like what we wear, immediately you're struck by how could the water is. And that just takes it right out of you immediately and hypothermia sets in and eventually it just overtakes you,” said Bretz. 

Bretz advises people to be aware when they are visiting the coast. He said any little distraction can prevent you from seeing dangers that lie ahead.