With international travel being so restricted this year we are all discovering how stunning and beautiful our home countries are with the advent of the “staycation”.
Our weather in the UK may not always live up to expectations but our countryside, coast, and beaches with an abundance of wildlife more than make up for it.
We must remember however that whilst we enjoy these wild and wonderful places we should pause to think about our safety and that of others.
Are You Properly Prepared?
The sea, mountains, rivers, and cliffs can be dangerous places especially when weather conditions change unexpectedly. We all think we are prepared; we know what we are doing, and we have done this all before, but sadly that is not always the case as forgotten lifejackets, safety checks or warmer clothing can lead to emergencies.
Advice From an RNLI Lifeboat Crew Member
My husband is a member of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) at a busy station and my tips below are drawn from his experiences in all weathers, at any time, all year.
If you are going to sea in a boat do some basic checks before you leave:
- Ensure the fuel is not old.
- Carry engine spares and know how to use them.
- Ensure all occupants are wearing a lifejacket and know what to do in an emergency.
- Carry a radio – mobile phones are not reliable for a signal.
- Tell someone where you are going and tell them your expected time to return to port.
If you are at sea on a small boat, paddleboard or canoe and fall in the water and can recover yourself to shore please tell the authorities about the abandoned watercraft. Recently 3 lifeboats and the search and rescue (SAR) helicopter were involved in a search for 4 hours due to this scenario.
Walking on the beach is not without hazards. Check the local tide information and height, be aware of mud flats and rock falls if walking under cliffs.
When swimming, surfing, or boarding be aware of the beach and local conditions. Rip currents can be dangerous along with rocks and other underwater hazards. Ask the locals or check tourist information. Try to swim on beaches manned by RNLI Lifeguards and follow their instructions and guidance.
The same advice applies to children using inflatables, be aware of the tide and wind direction so they do not get swept out to sea.
Joining the Wild Swimming Hype?
Wild swimming is becoming increasingly popular. It is no wonder as it is great fun, brilliant exercise, and it’s good for your mental health. If you decide to give wild swimming a go this summer, there are a few precautions you should take:
- Do not swim alone.
- Bring a swimming buoy.
- Do not stay in too long until you are acclimatised to cold water, this especially applies to rivers and inland waterways.
Cliff Climbing Adventures
If you are looking for some adventure this summer cliff climbing may have crossed your mind. With climbing being in the Olympics for the first time and the documentary Free Solo winning an Oscar, the sport is becoming increasingly popular. With the right preparations, climbing can be the highlight of the summer.
You should only attempt cliff climbing if you are either experienced and have all the correct equipment and safety protocols in place or hire a qualified instructor to take you out for the day.
Again, tell someone where you are going, what you are doing and your expected return time. A large-scale search at night was recently a direct result of climbers not informing the authorities they were night-climbing.
Beautiful Coastal walks
Summer is a great time to get out on long or short walks and experience our beautiful coastlines. Fresh air and beautiful scenery are good for both the body and soul.
If you are walking on coastal paths along cliff tops remember that wearing appropriate footwear is essential. You probably know this, but flip-flops are not suitable footwear on rough and rocky cliff paths. It is also important to keep dogs on leads, take some warmer clothing in case the weather turns and remember to close the gates in fields behind you.
Who are the RNLI and Mountain Rescue?
RNLI lifeboat crew and mountain rescue teams are made up of volunteers who give up their time night and day in all weather conditions to assist those in need. A large proportion of the callouts for our lifeboat station could have been avoided if guidance and safety measures were followed.
These tips and cautions may sound stern, but it is not designed to put you off a well-earned holiday, they are to ensure you stay safe and enjoy the water, coast, and cliffs around our shores.
So please enjoy your holiday and stay safe!
You can also check out these useful links for more information on how to stay safe.
Blog by: Michelle Hitchcock
Michelle Hitchcock is the Senior Implementation Consultant for Havenstar with over 30 years’ experience within the Marina industry and is a fully certified marine professional.
Credits: Photography – L Lewsley, R Hitchcock, A Hitchcock, Tembela Bohle, Lukas Hartmann