It's great to get out and about and explore your holiday surroundings, but it's even more important to stay safe whilst you're doing that!
The seaside is a great destination for a day out: but don’t forget that conditions can change quickly and there can be unexpected hazards.
Take a read of our sea-safety blog for guidelines on how to enjoy the "water-side" of your holiday.
There's nothing more scary on holiday than to mislay your Littleys..... and it happens more often than you would think!
Lifeguards have helped find nearly 7,000 lost children on UK beaches in the last five years, according to the RNLI and popular holiday spots can see around 40 incidents involving a missing child every day during the busy summer months.
As soon as you get to a beach, agree a meeting point in case of separation.
If the beach runs a children’s safety scheme, using wristbands or tickets, take part. They’re free and they work.
If you are at an RNLI lifeguarded beach pay a visit to the lifeguard point with your children, so they know where they can ask for help and they "know" what the lifeguard uniform looks like.
Take a photo of your Littley when you get to the beach:- if they wander off, you may not be thinking straight to remember what they are wearing, but the camera never lies!
Ensure your Littleys are aware of the "Stranger-Danger" rule, and just make sure that they are aware if they ask an adult for help, and that adult starts to take them away from the beach: to scream as loud as they can for help and make as much "fuss" as possible!
In same vein, if you see your child being "helped" by an adult, don't immediately presume the worst! Chances are, an innocent mum or dad has seen your child wandering about looking for you & has stepped in to help. Your head will be imagining all sorts within the first 5-minutes, so don't vent your spleen on someone who has helped!
As soon as you realise you have mislaid your Littley:- report it to the lifeguards on duty or dial 999 and ask for the coastguard. When a child is missing for more than 15 minutes, (this can vary depending on age and situation), cases are usually automatically escalated to the local coastguard.
It may seem funny to bury your play-mates up to their necks in sand, but it is actually quite a dangerous game to play.....
There’s nothing wrong with digging holes at the beach and filling them with water for your kids to play in. But if you dig a hole so deep that your head is barely poking out or burrow into a sand dune then you could be putting your life at risk. If it’s taken you three hours to dig your hole: that’s how long it might take someone to dig you out!
These deeper types of holes are highly unstable. The wet, harder sand that you dig out will dry out in the sun making it loose and the deeper you dig: the more danger there is of the hole collapsing inwards and potentially trapping you inside.
If you should happen to get yourself stuck, (once your mates have taken photos of course, before realising you are actually in a bit of trouble), The best way to rescue someone is to create a circle of people digging with their hands, then another outer circle to do the same, whilst also removing the sand from the first circle: the more circles of people digging the better, as this will then create a wider, shallow hole with no risk of any further collapse of sand.
Rocky coastlines are great fun to explore, especially if there are rock-pools where you can study marine life.
But remember that rocks are very unforgiving if you slip and fall, or you are caught by an incoming tide.
Wet rocks are very slippery and if you fall, you could be badly hurt and unable to get back to shore.
Rocky coastlines are often lonely places and there may not be anyone around to hear you shout for help if you get stuck.
Don’t be tempted to investigate cliff caves: the cliff face may be unstable and dangerous, or the tide may come in and cut you off. Always be aware of the tide (again, see our water safety blog) and if it is coming in, watch it closely and give yourself plenty of time to get back to shore.
Rocks are extremely treacherous in fast-moving water.
At the top of a cliff, the views can be spectacular but also dangerous. Don’t become a victim of ‘selfie culture’ – many people get themselves into trouble when trying to take a dramatic photo of themselves on a dangerous cliff edge.
The cliffs along the UK coastline are continually eroding. It’s impossible to predict when the next bit might go and it could be a few small rocks or several thousand tonnes. In 2017 - the Isle of Sheppey, (SE Kent), lost a chunk of cliff the size of 3 football pitches, with no prior warning whatsoever.
We're not even going to go into "cliff-diving" here, as it is just downright stupid and only a complete fool would even begin to think it is "fun" - so quite frankly if you give it a go and end up smashed against the rocks below, it really does serve you right!
Some basic tips to remember:
- Stay well back from the edge
- Keep an eye on children and dogs to make sure they do the same
- Make sure you are properly equipped for walking along coastal paths
- Wear sturdy shoes or boots
- Obey any warning signs and don’t climb fences to get to the edge of the cliff
- Don’t attempt to climb up or down cliffs unless you are properly equipped and trained to do so
- Don’t attempt to climb cliffs as a short cut back to the top
- Be responsible and don’t take unnecessary risks or let other people in your group do so.
Sadly some owners forget these rules also need to apply to their beloved pets....
Dogs love adventure and they can easily get into trouble at the coast. They can slip down cliffs and steep places while exploring and they can’t always make their way up again.
If that should happen: don’t try to rescue them, they often come back safe and well on their own but you might not.
- Always keep your dog on a lead near cliffs.
- Don’t try to rescue a dog if it is being swept out to sea. You’re likely to get into difficulty yourself.
- If your dog gets into trouble, call 999 for the Coastguard.
Mud and Quicksand:
It may sound like the latest Stephen King novel - but getting stuck in coastal mud or quicksand can really happen, especially in wide, flat estuaries and bays. Never try to cross a bay: the ground can look firm and safe, but be incredibly treacherous.
Walking over, or through, mud is difficult and tiring and there can be hidden channels of fast-flowing water. You can get trapped in the mud, which is frightening at the best of times but potentially fatal if the tide comes in.
If you should happen to get yourself stuck in mud or quicksand:
- Try to spread your weight as evenly as possible across the surface
- Avoid moving and stay as calm as you can
- Discourage other people from attempting to rescue you, since without the proper equipment they could become stuck too
- If you have a mobile phone you can reach, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you don’t, shout for help.
Do be aware, the coastguards work hand-in-hand with our RNLI volunteers and just like them - are totally reliant on donations. Please spare a few quid out of your holiday spending money by clicking here to donate.
Stay SAFE on your holidays