April showers: Safety warning from HM Coastguard

April Showers. That’s the saying and, so far this month, that’s also the fact as the country experiences changeable weather; sunny in the morning, hailing by lunchtime and blowing a gale by the evening. 

So we all need to be extra careful if we’re planning a trip to explore the coastal areas around the UK and get outside into our picturesque countryside.

So far in 2022, HM Coastguard has been called out to a number of incidents involving walkers who have found themselves in difficulty at the coast. In particular, there has been concern over the number of pet owners attempting to rescue their animal and people cut off by the tide.

It is vital at this time of year to be prepared before you head to the coast.
  • Consider if it is safe to go out at all.
  • Make sure you check the weather and tides if you decide it is safe to head out, wear appropriate footwear and clothing for your activity, know the sea conditions and stick to coastal paths
  • If you take your dog out with you, keep it on a lead at the coast especially near cliff edges. If they get stuck on a ledge, in mud or swept out to sea, don’t go after them. Most dogs make it back safely, but you might not. People often put themselves in danger in a rescue attempt.
  • Carry a mobile phone so that you have a way of making contact in an emergency and make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.
  • Cliffs can be more unstable than they look, and cliff falls or landslides can happen without warning. Take note and adhere to local warning signs. The cliffs along the UK coastline are continuously eroding, stay away from the edge which could be crumbly or slippery and do not climb cliffs as a short cut to the top. Periods of intense rainfall will often make cliff edges more vulnerable.
  • Don’t ever be tempted to stand near the edge to take a ‘selfie’ as it may be the last photo you ever take.
So if you plan to take a walk this winter, please remember to be careful out there and have a look at the below safety advice before setting out.

Take your eye off the water for just a moment and you can quickly find the tide closing in around you, like this walker in Blackpool
Picture: LB Photography


Alex Garrod, Senior Coastal Operations Officer, said: “It is really wonderful to see so many of us out and about enjoying our coasts and the fresh air.

“There are fewer more beautiful spots than the cliff walks along our coasts, but those walks can quickly turn dangerous if you aren’t aware of the risks.

“We have been called out quite a few times already this year – to either people cut off by the tide or worried about their dog having gone over the cliff.

“Please be careful and follow our safety messages. Check tide times and keep your pet on a lead near cliffs.”

Watch helmet-cam footage of Max the Border Collie's rescue:

Credit: RNLI


In January, Newhaven, Eastbourne and Birling Gap Coastguard Rescue Teams were sent alongside the Newhaven RNLI Lifeboat, to assist Border Collie Max's owners after the water-loving pooch threw himself off a cliff.

Alex said: "The owners were walking from Lewes to Eastbourne through Seaford on the coast path, training for the Welsh '15 peaks' challenge; 13 miles was the plan.

"But the walk was cut very short when Max went over the cliff at Seaford Head. Apparently he loves a swim in the sea, but didn't realise how high he was!

"Our Coastguard Rescue Teams on the cliff top used rope rescue equipment to gain a visual of Max, to then guide the lifeboat to him.

"HM Coastguard's role is to rescue human life at risk at our coast, which is why it's so important to keep your furry four-legged friends on leads when walking in coastal areas. But, if something does go wrong, never attempt to self-rescue  call 999 to ask for the Coastguard. If we can, we will help."

Please take note of safety advice and don’t take risks. If you see anybody in trouble, don’t enter the water to try to rescue them, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Read more about our rescues so far this year:

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