Safety Spotlight - Bank Holiday ahead

Sunglasses and safety at the ready?

Heading for the coast this Bank Holiday? The sea won't spot the difference between the experienced paddleboarder and the rookie swimmer. And coastal paths won't care whether you're a seasoned walker or stepping out on your first hike...

If you’re looking forward to enjoying some longed-for warmer weather, please remember that, although stunning, our coastlines can be challenging when it comes to safety. At the start of what’s set to be a busy summer around the UK, we’ve put together a few easy-to-follow safety tips that will help you and your loved ones make the most of the coast.

Rudy Rescue. Credit: Prawle Point Coastguard Rescue team 

Latest rescues 

Accidents on the coast can happen in the blink of an eye and catch you out before you know it whether you’re a local or on your first break in ages. Here’s selection of some ‘everyday’ incidents where our help has been needed in the last week.

  • Rudy Rescue: Much-loved Rudy took a tumble on the cliffs at Soar Mill Cove. Thankfully his owner Flynn Cleverley did the right thing and not to put himself at risk to rescue Rudy. Falmouth Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre sent our coastguard rescue teams from Prawle Point and Bigbury plus the Salcombe RNLI lifeboat went to his aid. One of the team’s specialist rope rescue technicians brought him to safety. He’s a little bruised but recovering well. Grateful owner Flynn said: ‘A big thank you for saving his life and he’s recovering well.’ 
  • Saga on a stroll: A lovely evening walk on a beach in Porlock quickly became a saga. The tide swept in and the two people were cut off, with nowhere to go. They were rescued by the Minehead and Lynmouth coastguard rescue teams and had a ride back to shore in an RNLI lifeboat.
  • Dinghy dunking: In Falmouth, two men and a dog needed help from our local Coastguard Rescue Team and the RNLI when they fell from their dingy into the cold water on the way back to a yacht. They were fine, albeit a bit damp.
  • Paddleboard panic: Four teenagers were on their paddleboards in Budleigh Salterton when one lost their paddle and another was struggling with the wind and tide. Shivering, they made it to some rocks but needed help to get to safety from our Exmouth Coastguard Rescue Team and the RNLI.
  • Quad bike, bye bye: In the Wirral where tides are notoriously tricky, two people on a quad bike had to leave it behind, covered in water. Coastguard rescue teams from Wirral and Crosby were sent, together with the RNLI lifeboat and a hovercraft. Thankfully the two men were a lot luckier than the bike – they made it to safety.
  • Rocky ride: A beach walk at South Queensferry turned into a ‘rocky ride’ for a woman after she fell and injured her shoulder on slippery rocks at the far end of the beach. Coastguard rescue teams from South Queensferry and Kinghorn were sent to help. Scottish Ambulance Service were satisfied she could be transported in the coastguard vehicle from the rocky beach to the waiting ambulance.   

Credit Prawle Point CRT

Don’t let it happen to you or your loved ones

With a recent RNLI survey forecasting that 30 million people will visit the coast this summer, the emergency services are almost certainly going to be busy. But the risks can be minimised if everyone takes some simple safety precautions, says Martin Leslie Coastal Operations Area Commander, who covers Cornwall.

‘We’re anticipating another busy summer and although it’s starting to warm up, the water is still chilly. So even though the sun is forecast to make a welcome return, we’d urge people to take extra care before taking a plunge. The water is still cool enough to bring on cold water shock that can increase the risks of drowning and organ failure.

‘It also pays to check the wind, weather and tides before setting out and observe local safety advice such as keeping well back from potentially unstable cliffs, ensuring dogs are on leads, going to a lifeguarded beach where possible and knowing to call 999 and asking for the Coastguard if anyone’s in trouble.

And for anyone heading out on the water on a personal watercraft such as a paddleboard, kayak, dinghy or bodyboard, a few added precautions will help, he added.

‘We strongly recommend that personal watercraft users should know their limits and keep within their comfort zone. Tell someone where you’re going, wear the appropriate safety equipment and clothing and take a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch so you can call for help if you need it,’ he said.

Stay Safe this Bank Holiday

  • Stay aware, stay well back and stay safe
  • If you find yourself in cold water, try and resist the urge to flail around. Float on your back, float to live
  • Choose the right safety equipment
  • Keep inflatable toys for the pool, they’re easily swept out to sea
  • Visit a lifeguarded beach where possible and swim between the red and yellow flags
  • Check tides and the weather. See the Met Office  and tide times 
  • Cliffs along the UK coastline are continually eroding, with pieces falling from them that can be just a few small rocks or as large as a car 
  • Take care with ‘selfies’ – Stay extra aware of what's around you! It’s not worth risking your life for a picture
  • Make sure you’re fully equipped and wearing appropriate clothes for walking at the coast. Tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back
  • Dogs: keep them on leads. If they slip or fall, don’t compound the danger by trying to rescue them, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard
  • Mobile phone: take a fully charged phone, ideally in a waterproof pouch

If you see anyone in trouble, don’t hesitate to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. 

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