Strong winds and seas – expect the unexpected

There’s one thing our 24/7 on call teams always expect around our coasts, it’s to expect the unexpected. 

With this week’s strong winds and blustery showers for much of England and Wales, we’d urge everyone to take extra care at the coast. And especially if you see something ‘unexpected’ as strong winds and waves will often wash up or reveal ordnance that’s been out of sight for years. 

Unexpected ordnance?

An unexpected discovery of ordnance is exactly what happened to local resident Alison Davin earlier this year at Formby beach, Merseyside, a few days after a high tide.

Image with thanks to Alison Davin

“I was out for my exercise on Formby beach on a bitterly cold late afternoon, but I decided to keep going and walk to a distant rock along the waterline before turning back for home. But when I got closer, I realised it wasn’t a rock. It was rusty, covered in barnacles and I’d never seen anything like it before,” she said.

Unsure of what to do, Alison took some photographs and called her father, Mike Davin. The local area had been badly bombed during World War II and Mr Davin had lived through the aftermath of the devastation caused by the war. He’d witnessed craters, houses destroyed and streets with vacant spaces where families had once lived. As a child, he knew to stay away from anything that looked like an incendiary device and report it to an adult.  

“My dad knew straight away that it looked like a bomb and told me to report it. I reported it immediately to the Police who called in the Coastguard and I was pleased to see the news reports that it was safely detonated the next day,” said Alison.

Image with thanks to Alison Davin

And two good things have come from discovering the unexpected, she added.

“Since finding the bomb, I’ve learned two great things: My grandchildren all think it’s cool that I found a bomb. Most importantly I now know that if you see anything that’s at all unusual on the coast, the people to call are the Coastguard on 999.”

Alison did the right thing - If you see anything unexpected on the coast, please tell us 

Matt West, HM Coastguard Duty Controller said: “Alison did exactly the right thing in reporting something that looked unusual on the coast as it turned out to be ordnance. Her actions meant we were able to bring in our specialist teams and partners including the Royal Navy’s specialist ordnance teams to keep people safe. Always call us if you see anything unexpected and take extra care, especially during and after stormy weather.”

6 Top Safety Tips

Please follow COVID-19 guidance and follow our safety advice by taking extra care at all times.

Here's a reminder of our top 6 safety tips for stormy weather:

• See something unusual? If it’s an unusual shape, size and especially if it is rusty, it could be unexploded ordnance. Please don’t touch it or move it. Call us on 999 and we can take immediate steps with the relevant partner authorities to keep people safe.

• Selfies; It’s not worth risking your life for ‘that selfie’.  Keep off groynes, piers, jetties and harbour walls. If you can feel the spray, you’re too close.

• Cliffs can be very dangerous and prone to rockslides and falls at any time, especially after prolonged periods of wet weather. Large rocks and boulders can come crashing down with little or no notice.

• Make sure that you are properly equipped. In particular do wear warm clothes and sturdy shoes. Check the weather forecast and tidal times before you set out. 

• Doggie don’ts; do keep your canine friends close and on leads. If your dog gets into difficulties please don’t risk your own life. Call us as we have teams out and about at all times, trained for fast response.

• Keep in touch; Tell someone where you are going and take a fully charged mobile (ideally with a location or ‘find me’ app) so you can call for help if things go wrong. 

Let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. If you or anyone is in difficulties on the coast, don’t delay calling for help. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

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