SALEM, Oregon — Springtime in Oregon offers beautiful landscapes to explore, but the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) warns it can also be dangerous. Camping, hiking, boating, and other recreational adventures can lead to search and rescue (SAR) operations to locate and assist those who are lost or injured. OEM encourages spring breakers and outdoor enthusiasts to “know before you go” to protect themselves and loved ones through forward planning and preparation.
“On average, more than 1,000 SAR rescues are conducted in Oregon each year, and over the past decade, 99% of people who required SAR assistance lived outside of the county where they were rescued,” said the state search and rescue agency. and rescue coordinator Scott Lucas. “A lack of willingness is often the common denominator. People should know their physical limits and plan activities that don’t exceed their experience to avoid becoming a search and rescue statistic.”
Whether you’re traveling for just a few hours or a week, a plan will help explorers be prepared for any adventure in Oregon.
Before you embark, the OEM recommends the following best practices:
• Look up the destination and familiarize yourself with the area.
• Check weather conditions.
• Download maps to a cell phone or print them out if cell service is unavailable.
• Enable Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on cell phones.
• Before traveling, check the Oregon Recreation Area status map to ensure the destination is open.
• Bring appropriate layers and shoes for the weather and terrain.
• Pack the right gear and extra food, water, and supplies.
• Have an emergency kit and cell phone charger in the vehicle.
• Travel with a companion.
• Share travel plans with someone, including destination and expected return.
“We want everyone, including Oregonians and visitors, to get outside and explore everything our state has to offer,” said Cailin O’Brien-Feeney, director of the Oregon Office of Outdoor Recreation. “We also want them to do so safely. Recent COVID-19 restrictions and wildfire damage have led people to explore uncharted territory when rebuilding. We encourage people to prepare for their next adventure so they can minimize their impact on the communities they visit.”
The spring sunshine sends many travelers to Oregon’s beaches, lakes, and rivers, where the water is still cold — typically around 50 degrees. Anyone approaching the water should wear a life jacket at all times; Check out the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) map of life jacket rental locations to borrow for the day if you don’t have your own. Life jackets greatly reduce the risk of drowning from cold water shock.
“Boating Oregon’s waterways is exciting and fun, but it also requires skill and expertise as conditions can change quickly,” said OSMB Public Information Officer Ashley Massey. “Being prepared with the right gear and checking for reported obstacles goes a long way in ensuring you have a safe and enjoyable experience.”
Oregon’s SAR program supports the broad spectrum of search and rescue operations across the state, including coordinating the activities of state and federal agencies involved in search and rescue operations and providing on-site search and rescue response when this is requested. There are no charges for SAR calls. In emergencies, dial 9-1-1; Most Oregon counties also accept SMS to 9-1-1.