Coastguards across the UK have issued a stark warning to take care at the coast or risk tragic consequences.
The warning comes as many are expected to travel to the coast for beach holidays and days out in the UK across the remaining summer months.
In the past ten days, Her Majesty’s Coastguard recorded that nine people* have sadly died while visiting the beach or coast. Each death represents a widescale tragedy for the families and friends of those who have died. Others have faced life-changing injuries.
HM Coastguard is pleading with everyone to look after themselves, stay safe and avoid the dangers while at the seaside or coast.
Director of HM Coastguard Claire Hughes said,
We can’t emphasise this enough – the sea has no respect for whether you’re local or not and whether you’re experienced or not.
She continued, “Please always check weather conditions and tide times before going out. The Coastguard will always respond to 999 and do all we can to get people home and safe.
“But be careful. Think twice about what you’re doing at the coast that might put you, your family and friends and even those who come to rescue you in danger. Watch out for each other and those you love. Get home safe.
“We’ve seen too many tragedies already this summer and we’re sad for those whose families have been left heartbroken by the loss.”
This summer the Coastguard reminds everyone to “Check tide times, remember the sea has currents, hidden depths and rip currents that can’t easily be seen.
It’s best to leave inflatables at home and make sure you have fully charged phones or other means of contact. The public is reminded to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard if ever they need to.
Earlier this year, Coastal Operations Area Commander Danny Jamson who covers the Wirral coastline said,
Sea and tidal conditions around the Wirral can change very quickly and unexpectedly, making it unpredictable and dangerous and we therefore urge anyone planning to visit the coast this Easter to be prepared.
You may have watched TV documentaries or read in the news about other people getting into difficulty at the coast and thought that it will never happen to you but it really could easily be you – a day out can change in the blink of an eye and you may find yourself needing help.
Regardless of how well you know the coast, or how experienced you are in your chosen sport, the sea can still catch you out, the mud patches may have expanded and a momentary lapse of concentration can put you in danger.”
Emma Burgess talks of her close encounter with the incoming tide at Leasowe earlier this week
A family day out at the beach didn’t go quite as planned for a woman from Thingwall, when she and her family visited Leasowe beach earlier this week, taking full advantage of the glorious weather that Wirral has been experiencing recently.
“Well beach day didn’t end at all like I’d expected it to!”, Emma said. “We were at Leasowe beach and the tide came in really fast from the side and cut us off on a sand bank.
“The lifeguards there asked us to walk up the beach to cross by the lighthouse where it was shallower. Luke was already half way over, so he just quickly swam out the other side onto the beach.
“Me and Chloe and everyone else followed the lifeguards down towards the shallower water.
“We crossed at the same place we saw the lifeguard cross a few minutes before. The water was only as deep as bikini bottoms and we were about 6ft away from being safely across when the current picked up so strong it started pulling us along.”
Before they knew it, the water was chest deep and the current pulled them completely under water and the seabed disappeared altogether.
I pulled Chloe back up to the surface and yelled at her to swim.
“We made it to a concrete ledge at the side of the water but the current pulled us along it so fast we couldn’t climb out.
“A man called Owen ran down and pulled Chloe out, I carried on tumbling along but managed to stop myself and he pulled me out too. Literally cannot thank him enough
If anyone knows Owen, or if he reads this, my absolute gratitude and thanks to you, you are a real life hero!
Both Emma and her daughter were “cut to bits and a bit shaken up”, by the ordeal, “I have some serious ‘mum guilt’ going on”, Emma said.
Even though Emma and Chloe had been rescued, there were still people stranded and Emma said that “it looked like the lifeguards were heading over on paddle boards and we saw the coastguard helicopter around too.”
As a word of warning, Emma said, “I can’t believe how fast the beach changed and how the strong current was in relatively shallow water.”
Staying safe on the Wirral coast
- Prepare and stay aware
- Check tide times
- Take a fully charged mobile phone so you can call 999 and ask the Coastguard to help if anyone is in difficulties
- Stay well away from cliff edges both on the cliff tops and on the beach as they are especially unstable at the moment
- Keep dogs on leads near fast-moving water and waves and on cliff tops
- If you find yourself stuck in mud, avoid moving too much and spread your weight by sitting down. Call for help
- Leave plenty of time to get back
- If you see anyone in trouble avoid trying to rescue them as you may easily get into difficulties too. Call in the fast-responding experts: 999 and ask for the Coastguard
* Quoted figure is from HM Coastguard’s fatality reporting records
Main image credit: Wirral Coastguard Rescue Team
In-article images: Emma Burgess