As the UK Bank holiday approaches the UK coastguard has issed a warning to check tides and stay safe. With the school holidays well underway and the busy bank holiday weekend around the corner, coastguards and the Shipping Minister are coming together to remind families, children and visitors of the importance of checking weather and tide times to stay safe whilst at the beach and along the coast.
Already this summer coastguards have dealt with many beach-related incidents, with a particularly high number of people being caught out by the tide and needing to be rescued after becoming stranded. Since 1st July, almost 150 such rescues have been carried out around the UK coast, with around 80% involving children.
This latest advice is part of an ongoing programme by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to remind those who visit our coast to have a great time and remain safe. So before you go check out the weather, sea conditions and the tide times (you can find this information on the web or many beaches display it at their entrance). That way you can enjoy the sea safely.
In addition to checking the tide times, remember that inflatable boats and toys can be great fun, but they are more suitable for use in swimming pools than at the beach. If you do use one at the beach, make sure that it is tethered to an adult who is in the sea with you and never use it if there is an offshore wind. Inflatable boats and toys can easily be blown off shore, then overturn. If you are blown out to sea on an inflatable boat or toy wave your arms in the air and shout for help. If you are out of your depth, don't attempt to swim back to shore.
Be careful around cliffs and rocks – they can be slippery and crumbly. Don't climb them unless you are properly kitted out. And don't attempt to rescue people or dogs from cliffs – call 999 and ask for the coastguard.
Coastguards are also encouraging parents, grandparents and other adults to ensure that children are properly supervised on the coast. We deal with numerous cases of lost children every year and it can be very distressing for children and adults alike. Some beaches provide beach band schemes which help to re-unite children with their families if they become separated, so take advantage of these schemes if appropriate.
Try to go to a lifeguarded beach if you can and stay within the flagged area.
If you notice that someone is in difficulty, either alert the lifeguard if one is available or call the Coastguard on 999.
Shipping Minister Mike Penning said:
"As an island nation, enjoying a seaside holiday is a great British tradition. The UK has some of the finest coastline in the world, and I want everyone to be able to enjoy it safely. Already this year we have seen how something as simple as familiarising yourself with the tide times before you set out can make all the difference. That is why I am encouraging anyone thinking of heading for the coast to take a few sensible precautions so they return home safely and with fond memories of a great day out. I would also like to pay tribute to our coastguard staff and volunteers who do such a great job to keep those who use our coastline as safe as possible."