Safety Spotlight - Feel the fun, not the fear this Bank Holiday

Who has got ‘the feels’ for some Bank Holiday fun at the coast? Whether you’re packing up your paddleboard, setting off on a boat, digging out the buckets and spades and a perfect picnic to enjoy with loved ones, we want everyone to feel the fun, not the fear this weekend.

Bank holidays are when most of us love to have a carefree time but accidents at the coast can happen in a flash and when you’re least expecting it…

Inflatables and dinghy dangers

The Southend coastguard teams and the RNLI brought the two safely back to shore
Credit: Sarah Jane Coombes, Southend on Sea Coastguard Rescue Team

There have been several incidents of inflatable dinghy dangers this week with offshore winds (when the wind blows off the land and out to sea) as a woman and a child at Southend found out. As their little dinghy was blown out to sea the woman jumped into the chilly water to try and hang on to a moored vessel’s anchor rope. Luckily she hung on until the rescuers arrived to bring them and their dinghy safely back to shore and  checked for the signs of potentially deadly hypothermia by the ambulance service.

Fun not fear: tips

  • Keep inflatables for the pool
  • If in difficulty, stay with the boat or toy. Shout and signal for help or call 999 and ask for the Coastguard

Lost child panics

Stock image, Pixabay

On busy beaches, it’s just too easy for children to lose their bearings. And it happens all the time. This week a family panicked for nearly two hours at Sandbanks in Dorset when a youngster went missing. Minutes can seem like months when this happens. Three of our coastguard rescue teams and the RNLI raced there to join Police in the search. Fortunately the girl was found safe and well some distance up the seven mile beach and was reunited with her relieved family.

Fun not fear: tips

  • Always visit a lifeguarded beach if possible
  • Take pictures of your loved ones to help identify them if they get lost. Keep them close
  • Use a beach wristband scheme if available

Spooks and searches

The search and rescue helicopter was sent to the scene. Credit Llantwit Major Coastguard Rescue Team

On Wednesday, two horses ‘spooked’ (panicked) while on a coastal ride near Bridgend, and ran away from their perceived danger to save themselves, leaving their riders in a danger zone of their own. It took a coastguard search party to find the injured riders in the undulating dunes. Because it was a remote location, the search and rescue helicopter was sent and the riders were airlifted to hospital.

Fun not fear: tips

  • If you see loose animals on the coast or anything that looks like it shouldn’t be there like strange objects that might be unexploded ordnance (bombs), do not approach them/it 
  • Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard and we’ll send the right people to help, fast

Mayday on board

Russ Hall kindly provided this picture of the vessel on fire off the Cornish coast this week

Lots of people have been enjoying time out on pleasure craft this summer. But it was no fun for the person on board a yacht near Portscatho this week. Plumes of smoke could be seen by multiple people who also called 999 for the Coastguard. Luckily a nearby motor cruiser helped the yachtsman until the RNLI picked them up, with emergency services teams and helicopter also in attendance.

Credit: Craig Sommerville, Girvan RNLI

And in Girvan, a vessel was on fire in the harbour, causing dramatic scenes. Thankfully no-one was on board but there was a big risk to safety because it was drifting around the harbour. It took a full compliment of emergency services working together as one team to bring everything back into control.  

Fun not fear: tips

If you’re setting off on a vessel this weekend, please check it is seaworthy

  • Check you have the right well serviced equipment such as lifejackets / buoyancy aids, emergency beacons and vhf radio
  • Ensure you have a means to call for help
  • If you’re on a jetski, please wear a buoyancy aid, use a kill cord and respect the safety of other water users so they don’t feel the fear

Rips with 'grips' 

Rip currents are a hazard all around our coast and the key is to try not to panic if you’re caught in their ‘grip’. 

In the last week, we’ve helped lots of people including swimmers in the water at Hopeman East Beach, Moray. Four were caught out and while two managed to make it safely back to shore, the other two were struggling and tired from being in the cold water. 

The search and rescue helicopter, the ambulance and the RNLI were sent. Coastguard rescue officers from Burghead used their specialist training and went in through the surf to rescue the two swimmers who were assessed by the helicopter paramedic before being passed to the ambulance service for ongoing care.

Rip currents happen in waters all around the world and the safety advice is the same.
Here Dr Rob Brander, one of Australia's leading experts explains

Fun not fear: tips for rips

  • Don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted.
  • If you can stand, wade don’t swim.
  • If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore.
  • Always raise your hand and shout for help.

If you see anyone in difficulties, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. We’ll send expert help, fast. We’re on call 24/7.

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