Never turn your back on the ocean. You can respond more quickly if you see what’s coming, said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Shane Abold.

Know the weather forecast. “Just be aware of the hazards,” Abold said. “If there is a beach hazard statement, have a higher level of alertness.”

Don’t get complacent. Complacency happens too often. People think they’re in a safe spot when they aren’t. A period of calm seas is often followed by large swells.

Watch your children. “The day when you’re seeing that bigger swell isn’t the day to have your kids playing in the cold Pacific Ocean waters,” Abold said. Hypothermia can set in after just a few minutes in the frigid ocean, especially for kids. Putting lifejackets on children can save their lives.

Have an escape. “Watch out for areas where you don’t have an escape route,” Abold said, such as beaches surrounded by a horseshoe of cliffs.

Don’t climb out on rocks or cliffs that are slippery or have water hitting them. Those are hazardous areas and rescues are difficult. “Boatwise, it’s hard for us to get our assets in there, and it’s a lot more dangerous for the rescuer as well,” Abold said.

Dry rocks may not be safe. Even if an outcropping appears dry, a larger swell could come in and sweep a person off a rock. “Watch any video of people being swept off,” Abold said, “and you can almost see it coming.”

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