Safety Spotlight - Sea, scares, stats and rescues. Could it be you?

During May 2021, we’ve responded to 3,375 reports of incidents around our coasts, helping hundreds of people out of sticky situations and scary moments.

Sunny Bank Holidays are a time when many of us enjoy spending time at the coast with our family and friends. But for some people it’s also a time to discover that at the sea, it can change from a warm, sunny place to a seriously scary one in seconds.

Oops, an expensive slip up. Credit St Agnes Coastguard Rescue Team


What the stats say

Last Bank Holiday weekend was busier than last year’s for our teams around the UK as sunseekers in their thousands headed for some fun at the coast.  

Between 00.01 on Friday morning (28 May) until midnight on Bank Holiday Monday (31 May), we recorded 874 incidents - where the fun stopped and our assistance and that of our fellow emergency service partners was needed. 279 of those incidents were on Bank Holiday Monday. In 2020 over the same period, we recorded 535 incidents.

Incidents in May:

  • 2021: 3,375
  • 2020: 3,155
  • 2019: 2,859

Safety first helps stop the scare

It’s all too easy to have a scare as so many people discovered last weekend but you can help avoid it happening you and your loved ones by following a few simple safety tips. 

James Instance, Coastguard Controller based at Falmouth Coastal Operations Centre, one of 10 around the UK said:

“The return of the sun was really welcome in the time for the holiday and people in large numbers have headed for the beaches everywhere. But for some people, the enjoyment was short and not very sweet when the unexpected happened. Tides and currents in particular can catch people out very quickly, sweeping people and their possessions out to sea and into a chilly, if not life-threatening situation. To help stop those scares and make it a fun time, we’d encourage everyone to take a few simple safety checks before setting off,” he said.

  • Stay aware, stay well back from cliffs and keep in close contact with your loved ones
  • If you find yourself in cold water, try and resist the urge to flail around. Float on your back, float to live
  • 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 Met Office Tide Times 
  • Jumping from piers, rocks and heights can be very dangerous. You don’t know what lurks beneath the surface and tides can change deep water into shallows
  • Dogs: keep them on leads. If they slip or fall, don’t compound the danger by trying to rescue them. Call us.
  • Mobile phone: take a fully charged phone, ideally in a waterproof pouch so you can call 999 and ask for the Coastguard if you need to

Scares and rescues. Don’t let it be you. Here’s our editor’s pick of a few incidents over the last week which have given everyone a fright. 

Cornwall: 29 May. St Agnes Coastguard Rescue Team went to a report of a car in the sea at Trevaunance Cove.  The occupants were safe but the car was a ‘washout’.

A car was washed into the sea. Fortunately the occupants got out safely. Credit St Agnes CRT

Dorset: 1 June. A man jumped into the water for ‘fun’ (tombstoning) at Durdle Door. The outcome was anything but – an injured shoulder and a trip to hospital. Lulworth and Kimmeridge coastguard rescue teams went along to help secure the beach for the South West Ambulance helicopter.  

Credit for still and video to Kimmeridge and Lulworth Coastguard Rescue Teams

Ayr: It was a very long half hour for a worried mum on a beach in Ayr when a 5 year old went missing. Coastguard rescue teams from Ardrossan and Ayr were sent plus Troon RNLI and the search and rescue helicopter. It was a big relief when the child was found safe and well.  

Norfolk: Three teens on one paddleboard went missing at Brancaster harbour. They had no mobile phones so the worried parents weren’t able to check on them when they disappeared out of sight. Rescue teams from Hunstanton and Wells and the RNLI lifeboat were sent. Thankfully the harbourmaster found them and took them back to safety.

North Wales: On 31 May, two kayakers were in trouble at Porth Cae Du. One had capsized and  was in the water for 15 minutes struggling to get back on board – with the risk of drowning or worse. Holyhead CRT, Trearddur Bay RNLI lifeboats were sent. One casualty made it to shore and the lifeboat picked up the other one.

Credit Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team on patrol at Bangor

Northern Ireland: A woman fell off an inflatable dinghy into chilly water. The inflatable drifted out but she was lucky to be picked up by a passing boat while the Coastguard rescue teams from Bangor and Portaferry, the RNLI and the Ambulance service were en route.

We’re on call 24/7 and ready to help anyone in difficulties around the coasts at the drop of a hat. If you spot anyone in trouble, we’d rather know about it. Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

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