Your direct source for Dry Suits, Waders & Waterproof Bags for Diving, Kayak, Waterski, Jetski, Rafting, Fishing and more!
Least Known Beach Dangers
The recent tragic story of a young couple who were washed away by a large, "sneaker wave" from a jetty on the Oregon Coast reminds us all of the sudden, forceful threat that the ocean poses to our safety. We are constantly being told to beware of rogue waves as well as rolling logs, rip currents, high cliffs and embankments, getting caught in high tide and even shark attacks. But there are other dangers that are not talked about much, here are five of the least known.
The unusually large waves that come seemingly from nowhere are the ones that people commonly think of as being the most dangerous at the beach. Those are the types of waves that took the young Oregon couple. But another danger lurks even in smaller, "regular" waves and it's called shore break. It occurs in shallow water, up to waist deep, and happens when small waves abruptly break, pulling swimmers off their feet and into the hard sand at the bottom, often paralyzing them. Shore break can happen in a split second in any season, in any beach in the world and causes countless debilitating injuries -- even death.
No, they don't have rows of razor-sharp teeth and don't have a movie franchise built around them, but jellyfish, or sea jellies, are much more likely to put the hurt on you than any shark anytime soon. Most stings from these spineless creatures are mild, but some species can pack a painful punch and in rare cases can be fatal.
We hear too many stories of people wandering off the trails and falling over cliffs at the coast, and the dangers of teetering high up on a ledge are obvious. But not much is said about being under the cliff. It might be tempting to find a nice, sheltered spot at the bottom of a beachside cliff, but that can be hazardous, especially if it is under an outcropping and especially if its winter, when storms and big waves have the chance to erode the shoreline and raise the likelihood of collapse and landslides.
The beach looks nice and clean (usually) but all over the world, contaminants in the sand and water are making people sick. Beaches near heavily industrialized areas and waste water treatment plants are the most polluted, but even remote coastlines are affected. Human pathogens like viruses and bacteria, heavy metals like lead and benzine and toxins like the infamous "red tide" algae bloom are all hidden dangers on our beaches.
Nicks and Scratches
Believe it or not, cuts, bruises, sprains, broken bones and head injuries are the most common yet least mentioned of all the beach perils. In populated beaches, bicycle and skating accidents are common, and in the more untamed places, people often hurt themselves on the rocks or driftwood, cut themselves on sharp barnacles or seashells or otherwise trip, slip or fall in the sand.
This list is by no means meant to be complete, but it is a stark reminder of just how many dangers can lurk below the radar. Visiting the coast can be one of the most rewarding and memorable times of your life, each trip a unique getaway. But with the enjoyment comes the responsibility of being aware of the hazards, great and small.
sources: health.discovery.com, cbsnews.com, oregon.gov, geography.berkeley.edu photos: parkerlab.bio.uci.edu, planetgreen.discovery.com
2010 Captain Kujo All rights reserved.