Staying safe in coastal areas with the RNLI

RNLI's Coastal Safety Programmes Manager Pip Hare talks about the the impacts and dangers of the current weather conditions.

There's nothing quite like getting outside on a blustery day to blow away those winter blues; but the extreme weather most of the UK and Ireland have experienced over the recent months has taken some people by surprise with sadly tragic consequences.

With more storms and high tides set to ravage our shores over the next couple of weeks, if you are planning on heading out to the coast there are a couple of precautions to take to ensure you stay safe and dry.

Whether out for a Sunday afternoon stroll or taking the dog on its usual walk; in high winds stay away from exposed headlands - where gusts of wind could be fifty per cent stronger - and also from cliff edges.

Though the enormous waves that have been crashing onto our shore since the beginning of the year are spectacular to watch, do not underestimate their power. Even a smallish wave carries enough energy to knock a person from their feet and drag them out of their depth.

Stay away from harbour walls that have been breached and shorelines where waves are breaking. If you want to look at the sea do it from a safe distance; you don't need to be next to it to appreciate its full force.

RNLI_Porthcawl wave

If you are walking the dog on the beach or next to the water keep it on the lead in high risk areas or vary your regular route if necessary to make it a little bit safer. Above all if your dog falls into the water do not go in after it. The best thing you can do for your pet is to stand in a safe place on the shore and call for them or call for help.

Walkers are not the only ones getting battered by our winter weather; Britain's sea anglers need to be especially careful over the next few months. Fishing from exposed shorelines mean you are particularly vulnerable to slipping or being washed off rocks by high tides or sudden huge waves.

Some fishing spots you've been visiting safely for years could be at risk due to the extreme conditions and unpredictable nature of storm surf, so take the time to watch from a distance before you commit to going out onto rocks. If you do go out for a day's fishing our best advice is to go with a mate; they will be your only chance of calling for help if you get into trouble, wear a life jacket if you are going to be out on the rocks and take a means of calling for help. That way you are sure to get your catch home.

So get out there, enjoy the brief dry days while you can but stay safe, stay dry and above all respect the water.

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Warnings of further storms this week

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