Sneaker Wave Sweeps Woman Out To Sea: How To Reduce Risk Of Falling Victim To Sneaker Wave
The 32-year-old woman was walking on a beach near Shelter Cover in Humboldt County, Calif., with her boyfriend and dog when a sudden wave pulled her out to sea.
The Coast Guard reported that the woman's body was brought to shore after a roughly 45-minute search by boat and helicopter.
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The woman's boyfriend avoided being pulled in by climbing onto a rock.
A sneaker wave is a disproportionately large coastal wave that can appear without warning. Sneaker waves can catch unwary swimmers and wash them out to sea. It is also said to not be uncommon for those just standing on the beach to be washed into sea.
Duty Officer Cheryl Anthony said on Sunday that the ocean was extremely hazardous that day.
"The waves were about 10 to 15 feet. It was very, very hazardous for them to be out there."
The Coast Guard issued a warning about the risk of approaching the water during the winter months in Northern California.
"Winter is an especially dangerous time (on beaches in Northern California), and sneaker waves can catch beach goers by surprise, washing them into the sea ... People walking along the beach should not turn their back to the ocean."
Others who have been victims of the dangerous sneaker wave include a couple who drowned back in November. After their dog was pulled into the water, the family went in to save the dog. The 16-year-old boy disappeared into the water.
On New Year's Day a couple went into the water after their dog was pulled in from the beach near Point Reyes. The man was swept away, but the woman and dog made it to shore.
Sneaker waves are common on the coasts of North California, Oregon and Washington. The outdoor recreation safety coordinator of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department stated, 'We call them sneaker waves for a reason -- they're unpredictable and they sneak up on people."
These types of waves generally occur when two or more smaller waves fall into sync, piling atop each other to form one large wave.
1. Never turn your back to the ocean.
2. Sneaker waves often travel much farther than the water line so if an incoming wave rises higher on the beach, move to higher ground.
3. Don't tempt fate and see how high the wave will be, just move back.
4. Sand could be pulled from beneath your feet, try to plant them or use an object to help you plant yourself, and hang on.
5. If you are carried out by a sneaker wave, don't panic. You'll need to swim parallel to the shore until you can swim in safely. If you try and swim directly back to shore you will grow tired and could potentially drown from exhaustion.
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