Ocean Safety

Be Swept Away By the Beauty, Not By The Sea

Waves on the Mendocino Coast at Mendocino FunHazardous Surf Conditions Are Right In Front of You

Surprisingly large “rogue” waves occur daily at any time of year. They can knock you down and sweep you off beaches and rocks into cold, deep water. These waves can be deadly for the unwary and account for many preventable drownings.

If You Do Get Swept In

Stay Calm. Call for help. Expect more large waves. Take a moment to get your bearings. Look for a place where the waves may be smaller, preferably a low, sandy area where you can exit without being battered against the rocks.

If you see someone swept into the ocean, DO NOT go in yourself. Throw a floatable object if it is close by.

Go for help. Call 911.

Rip Currents

Rip currents are strong, swift-moving channels of water moving from shore to sea. Don’t swim against the current. Swim gradually out of the current by swimming across it.

Surf-related Accidents are Preventable

To save your life:
• Expect the next wave to be two or three times larger than the one before it. Keep dry land between you and wet sand or rocks. Avoid exposed rocks, jetties, and headlands during and after storms.
• If you are near the water, face the ocean at all times to reduce the chance that a large wave will surprise you.
• Keep children close to you and small children within easy grasp. Non-swimmers should wear life jackets.
• Share these safety tips with children.
• Tide pools are in low-lying areas where waves can easily reach you. Rocks are slippery. Be especially cautious.

Other Hazards

Know the Tides
Incoming tides isolate rocks from headlands and the shore. If you’re not sure about the tide, avoid these rocks. Use a tide book. Stay off rocks and small enclosed beaches on an incoming tide.

Frigid Water
Average ocean temperature is 52 degrees F (11 degrees C). Any one in the ocean without a wetsuit will become hypo-thermic quickly. Survival time may be as short as 15 minutes.

Beware of crumbling bluffs overhead, the unexpected rogue wave, and surf-tossed logs.

Stay Safe on the Bluffs

All cliffs and bluffs are unstable and may crumble. Stay away from the edge.

When fishing from rocks or shore take extreme care. Do not go into the surf to free a snagged line.

Diving, Kayaking, and Surfing
If the ocean looks rough, it is rough. Know your limits and wait for calmer seas.


– Never turn your back on the ocean

– Learn to swim and float

– Keep children within easy grasp

– Know when tides change

– Expect rapidly changing conditions

– Stay back on cliffs and bluffs

– Avoid slippery rocks

Mendocino Outdoors is the premier guide to outdoor activities on the Mendocino CoastMendocino Outdoors, the premier guidebook for outdoor fun and adventure on the Mendocino Coast, has been updated in 2017 as an ebook for the 5th Edition. You can buy a copy at Smashwords.com, the Apple iBooks Bookstore, Amazon’s Kindle Books, and Barnes & Noble's online store.

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