This week is Maritime Safety Week and with another bumper season expected on the UK’s beaches, we’re taking this opportunity to remind everyone about the importance of taking responsibility for the safety of yourself and others at the coast.
During May-October 2020 the number of people visiting UK beaches soared; Coastguard incidents increased by 18% and 999 calls to the Coastguard increased by 37% (compared to the same period in 2019). August was our busiest month – 999 calls to Coastguards increased by over 50% compared to August 2019.
Maritime Minister Robert Courts said:
“HM Coastguard plays an invaluable role protecting and saving lives every day.
“We owe an enormous amount of thanks to everyone who continues to give their time and efforts to keep our coastline and shores safe. This week is a chance to reflect on the brilliant work done and how we can always work together to save even more lives.”
Claire Hughes, director of HM Coastguard, said:
“A day at the beach should be filled with laughter, fun and great memories and it will be, with just a little attention to safety. So don’t let your dream holiday or day trip turn into a nightmare; read signs and listen to warnings, prepare well for your day out and if you or someone else is in trouble at the coast call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
“We are anticipating a very busy summer and have prepared for that with extra coastguard cover in our busiest areas as well as really pushing our safety messages – we ask that people take a few moments to read them.
“Knowing what to do if the worst happens really could make the difference between life and death – it’s that simple. Don’t be scared but be cautious and remember that we will be there if you find yourself in trouble.”
Gareth Morrison, head of water safety at the RNLI, said:
“We are expecting this summer to be extremely busy for our lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crews.
“We want people to enjoy the coast but urge everyone to respect the water, think about their own safety and know what to do in an emergency.
“Our main advice is to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling over 240 beaches this summer to help keep people safe.”
Our beaches, cliffs and beauty spots can be dangerous places filled with hidden pitfalls. From tidal waters to coastal erosion to getting swept away by unexpected currents. Coastguard teams will be patrolling the tourism hot spots and busy visitor areas at the weekends and on busy days throughout the summer.
- Go to a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.
- If you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live. Lean back and use your arms and legs to help you float, then get control of your breathing before calling for help or swimming to safety.
- Keep a close eye on your children and ask the beach if they have a local wristband scheme to help reunite children if they wander off.
- Inflatables are great fun in a swimming pool but please don’t use them in the sea as they can quickly be swept out by currents and offshore winds.
- If you’re taking a paddleboard out, check weather conditions before setting off, wear a buoyancy aid and take a means of calling for help such as a phone in a waterproof pouch.
- Make sure that you check weather and tides before you set out on coastal walks, wear appropriate clothing and footwear and take a fully charged mobile phone.
- Be responsible about alcohol consumption – booze and our coasts do not mix.
- When standing at the bottom of a cliff, we would always advise people that they shouldn’t stand less than the height of the cliff away. That means that if the cliff is 25 metres high, don’t go closer than 25 metres towards it. The 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.
- Please don’t jump from piers, cliffs, rocks or other structures into the sea. It can be very dangerous; the depth of the water can dramatically change with the tide, and what was a deep pool at lunchtime might be a shallow puddle by teatime. You don’t know what hazards may be lurking under the surface until you are hurt or worse.
And, if all else fails, remember: In an emergency, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.