Fourth of July on the Coast: Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Holiday

As we approach the Fourth of July, many may be heading to the beach this weekend (visitors and locals alike) for their celebration destination. While there are many benefits to visiting the beach, such as space to hunt seashells and build sandcastles, ocean breezes to keep you cool, and opportunities to build a bonfire to warm you back up after the sunsets, there are a few tips we would like to share with you to help you prepare for a safe and enjoyable day at the beach!

And remember, fireworks are prohibited on Oregon beaches and in some coastal towns, so be sure to check local regulations and make a plan to enjoy your fireworks before you head to the beach or choose an alternative activity to celebrate the holiday instead.

Water Safety:

  • Be alert for sneaker waves, powerful waves that can “sneak” up on you and often contain debris such as driftwood which can seriously injury you and carry you out into the ocean.
  • Never turn your back to the ocean. Be aware of the weather forecast, sunset time, and tide schedule.
  • Wear a lifejacket and be cautious if you choose to go into the water. Even on a hot day, the Pacific Ocean remains at a cool temperature. As noted by the CDC, hypothermia can occur in any water temperature below 70°F.
  • It is best to use the “buddy system” when visiting the beach – travel with a friend or family member and stay together. Never let children play in the ocean without adult supervision.
  • If you see someone in trouble in the water, call 911 and remain in the spot you first saw them until first responders arrive – this will help the first responders in their rescue plan.

Bonfire Safety:

  • When choosing your beach bonfire spot, make sure you are at least 50 feet away from any beach grass.
  • Build your fire no larger than your beach chair (about 2 feet by 2 feet in size).
  • Avoid using driftwood for your fire due the unpredictability of how long it will burn. It is best to bring your own wood or buy firewood from a local vendor or store.
  • Never leave your fire unattended. When you are done enjoying your bonfire, use water to fully extinguish your fire until all red embers are out. Avoid covering your fire with sand – this may not fully extinguish your fire and could injure another beachgoer if they step on your covered fire.

Food and Drinks:

  • Bonfires provide a great opportunity to get out your roasting sticks and enjoy some wood-fire treats. Vegetables such as zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes can all be easily roasted over the fire and add healthy options to your bonfire meal. Have a cooler? Bringing fresh fruit is a great way to add sweets to your trip. Check out our 4th of July special recipe “Fourth of July Fruit Pizza.”
  • Pack out what you take in. Many beaches do not have public trash cans available. Make sure you take all your garbage and containers with you when you leave the beach. Packing a bag for trash can make cleaning-up your beach area easier.
  • Pack plenty of water for your beach trip. If you are 21 years of age and older and are considering consuming alcohol, check with local city/county regulations on alcohol consumption policies. Do not leave used containers on the beach. Plan ahead of time for a sober ride home, even one drink can impair driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that from 2015 to 2019, there were 1,339 drivers killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes over the Fourth of July holiday period — 38% of the drivers killed were drunk. If you see an impaired driver on the road, safely pull over and call 911.

Parking and Crowds:

  • Anticipate larger than normal crowds at the beach. Use the Tillamook County Trails and Recreational map on the Tillamook Coast website to find alternative spots if your go-to destination is very popular. Tillamook County has 137 beach and water access spots!
  • Plan ahead if you plan to drive and park your car. You may not be able to park close to a beach entrance. If you have to walk further to the beach, check the distance to make sure it is feasible for yourself and consider how/if you will be able to take your beach gear with you. Do not park in fire lanes or block driveways.

Did you know that three towns in Tillamook County offer FREE wheelchairs for the beach? Contact the Manzanita, Rockaway and Pacific City visitor centers for more information on how to use these wheelchairs for your visit.

Wishing all a safe and happy Fourth of July!

For additional resources on visiting the beach safely go to Tillamook Coast and Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District websites.

Other wellness questions? Email us at For more local health and wellness information, visit or follow Tillamook County Wellness on Facebook and Instagram.