Springtime in Oregon offers beautiful scenery to explore, but the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) cautions it can also be dangerous. Camping, hiking, boating and other recreation adventures can result in Search and Rescue (SAR) operations to find and assist those who have become lost or injured. OEM encourages spring breakers and outdoor enthusiasts to “Know Before You Go” to keep themselves and their loved ones safe with advanced planning and preparation.
“On average, more than 1,000 SAR missions are conducted each year in Oregon, and over the last decade, 99% of people needing SAR assistance lived outside the county where they were rescued,” said State Search and Rescue Coordinator Scott Lucas. “Lack of preparedness is often the common denominator. People should know their physical limits and plan for activities that won’t exceed their experience to avoid becoming a search and rescue statistic.”
Whether traveling for a few hours or a week, having a plan will help explorers be prepared for any Oregon adventure. Before heading out, OEM recommends the following best practices:
- Look up the destination and get familiar with the area.
- Check weather conditions.
- Download maps to a cell phone or print them in case there is no cell service.
- Check Tripcheck.com or call 511 for road conditions.
- Enable Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on cell phones.
- Check Oregon’s Recreation Site Status Map before traveling to confirm the destination is open.
- Bring clothing layers and footwear appropriate for the weather and terrain.
- Pack the proper equipment 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 the destination and estimated return.
“We want everyone, including Oregonians and visitors, to get outside and discover all our state has to offer,” said Oregon Office of Outdoor Recreation Director Cailin O’Brien-Feeney. “We also want them to do so safely. Recent COVID-19 restrictions and wildfire damage have led people to explore unfamiliar terrain when recreating. We encourage people to be prepared for their next adventure so they can minimize their impact on the communities they visit.”
Spring sunshine sends many travelers to Oregon’s beaches, lakes and rivers where the water is still cold — usually around 50 degrees. Anyone near the water should always wear a life jacket; check the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB)’s map of life jacket loaner stations to borrow for the day if you don’t have your own. Life jackets greatly reduce the risk of drowning due to cold water shock.
“Boating on Oregon’s waterways is thrilling and fun, but it also takes skill and know-how because conditions can change quickly,” said OSMB Public Information Officer Ashley Massey. “Being prepared with the right equipment and checking for any reported obstructions will go a long way to making sure you have a safe and enjoyable experience.”
Oregon’s SAR program supports the broad spectrum of search and rescue operations throughout the state, including coordinating activities of state and federal agencies involved in search and rescue and providing on-scene search and rescue efforts when requested. There is no charge for SAR calls. In case of emergencies, dial 9-1-1; most Oregon counties also accept texts to 9-1-1.