Category Archives: safety

Preparing for bee stings — and earthquakes and tsunamis (2015)

Why didn’t we bring the first-aid kit? The hike was only a 4-mile round trip on a well-maintained trail. What could go wrong? Well, a yellow jacket nest encounter would be exciting.

That happened, but the result was only two stings among the three of us and no adverse reactions. Although we knew to prepare, we didn’t put it into practice.

Practice preparedness – earthquakes and tsunamis

Beverly-BeachThe New Yorker magazine ran an article this past July that brought a lot of attention to The Really Big One – a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake followed by a tsunami. That story made it real to many, and several campers and visitors asked us for our coastal campground tsunami routes. They took steps to prepare.

The good news is that every state park coastal campground within a predicted tsunami zone has an evacuation route posted with signs in the park. Each coastal brochure also includes a campground map that shows the designated tsunami evacuation route.

Make it a practice to look for the evacuation route signs after you’ve arrived at the park. You can also find the coastal campground brochures at Take the time to look at the map before you head out. The maps are also available at the park.

What else can you do?

Search for resources to help you prepare. The Oregon Tsunami Clearinghouse has an evacuation zone map viewer, as well as links for specific information for coast visitors, residents, boaters, and kids and teachers. The clearinghouse motto sums it up: We cannot prevent a tsunami but we can prepare for one.

The Great Oregon ShakeOut website has tips for preparing for the earthquake that precedes the tsunami. The “Get Prepared” section includes tips for hazard hunts, disaster-preparedness plans, emergency supply kits and more. Take a look at the Earthquake Preparedness page on the American Red Cross website.

Practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On during the Great Oregon ShakeOut, Oct. 15 at 10:15 a.m. Learn more about the drill and register at the Great Oregon ShakeOut.

Beach emergency signs in place along the coast (2015)

Oregon beach number sign

So far, 424 numbered signs are installed along the length of the Oregon coast.

When you’re at the beach, look for new numbered signs along the shore, part of a beach safety project to help emergency personnel respond quickly.

The bright yellow signs with bold black letters are installed at state, county and federal beach accesses from the Columbia River jetty to Crissey Field at the California border. Numbered 1 through 197, the signs are designed to be easily visible by beachgoers who can relay the number to a 911 dispatcher in an emergency. Dispatchers have GPS information needed to direct first responders quickly to the emergency.

“It can be confusing locating a victim offshore or on the beach. The beach numbered signs have helped tremendously in our ability to respond promptly in an emergency,” said North Lincoln Fire & Rescue Captain Jim Kusz, a member of the planning committee that began meeting in 2004. “The signs have proven to be an excellent aid for our Water Rescue Team and in coordinating our rescue efforts with United States Coast Guard and other agencies.”

In addition to the numbered signs, more than 200 beach safety signs are now at beach access paths that warn visitors of hazards such as rip currents and sneaker waves. The signs also list prohibited activities including littering and lighting fireworks. The signs convey information using internationally-recognized symbols.


The signs clearly convey information that will keep visitors safe, like staying back from cliff edges and staying off logs.

“Unfortunately, accidents happen on the beach. Rolling logs, rip tides and unstable cliffs are all potentially dangerous,” said Calum Stevenson, Ocean Shore specialist for Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD).

Near population centers, the signs are as close as 1/4 mile apart. In more remote areas the signs are up to two miles apart or more where there are fewer beach accesses.

The first signs were installed November 2008 in Lincoln City and Devils Lake. Now, 424 signs are in place along nearly the entire coast, except for some private accesses and cities that may come on board later. The 45 miles under U.S. Forest Service (USFS) jurisdiction between Florence and Coos Bay is also unsigned. OPRD is working with the USFS to resolve archaeological and other issues on federal land before proceeding.

The $78,000 project was funded by a combination of visitor fees and Oregon lottery dollars that are dedicated to state parks. Some coastal cities have shared in the cost of creating and installing signs. Private communities, such as Salishan in Lincoln City are paying for their own signs.

Tips for hiking in autumn weather (2014)

Fall hikesWhether you’re on a mushroom search or exploring a new area or trail, the hike can turn serious if you’re not prepared. Every fall, a few adventurers get lost.

Follow these precautions to stay safe:

  • Use a map to plan your trip and familiarize yourself with the area in advance.
  • Inform someone of where you’re going and when you plan to return.
  • Hike with a companion.
  • Carry and drink plenty of water.
  • Wind and rain storms are common in the fall and winter. Dress in layers, avoid cotton and carry quality rain gear.
  • Don’t go hiking if a storm is in the forecast, and turn back in bad weather.
  • Carry a map and compass, and know how to use them.
  • Also carry with you these essential items: flashlight, matches, first aid kit, whistle, plastic garbage bag and pocket knife.

If you’re looking for mushrooms, consider joining a guided  hike. Fort Stevens State Park is hosting two this month: Nov. 10 and 30 at 1 p.m., led by Park Ranger Dane Osis. Information: 503-861-3170 or email

Need some hiking inspiration? Take a look at the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Association web pages celebrating the upcoming “Wild” movie release. PCT thru-hikers share some of their wild stories, including Columbia River Gorge Park Ranger Dorothy “Bacon Bit” Brown-Kwaiser, who hiked the trail in 2012.