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It’s that time of year when we all are reminded to be aware of cold weather and ice conditions when we are outside. But after a recent spate of incidents across the country, HM Coastguard has issued some timely advice for enjoying the coast safely.

By following these simple safety tips people can enjoy the coast without putting themselves in danger.

  • • Wrap up warm – The sea breeze will make the temperature feel even colder than it actually is.
  • • Wear appropriate foot wear – Sturdy walking boots or good quality outdoor shoes should be worn. Trainers, flip flops, smart leather shoes have all been spotted by Coastguards in recent days being worn by people slipping and sliding along narrow cliff top paths. This type of footwear is not appropriate for a cliff top walk.
  • • Do not run on cliff top paths – we understand that people like to get out and enjoy the outdoors and keep fit but, the cliff top chalk paths are less than a metre from the edge of the cliff in places and they are very slippery.
  • • Make sure you have a good phone signal – Some areas have poor or non-existent mobile phone coverage. By staying in areas that have a good phone signal, if the worst happens you will at least be able to call for help. Make sure your mobile is fully charged before you set out. Remember to tell someone where you are going and what time you’ll be back.
  • • Check the tides and weather forecast before going out.

Matt Pavitt, Coastal Area Operations Commander for Dover said:

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“It goes without saying that the UK has a beautiful coastline and we’re proud of it too. There’s nothing better at this time of year than a winter walk along the coast, however, in recent weeks Coastguards across the UK – particularly in the Dover Area – have been called out to a number of incidents to help people who have become injured, lost and cold – mainly because they have been poorly prepared. We want to make sure that everyone comes home safely at the end of their day out.

“It’s essential to remember to wrap up warm, wear sturdy footwear, stay away from cliff edges and keep your dogs on a lead. If your dog picks up the scent of another animal or it hears something on the coast below they normally don’t hesitate to follow their nose and go over a cliff. If your dog does fall down a cliff or starts getting swept out to sea, please do not attempt to rescue it yourself. Nine times out of ten your dog will rescue itself and return to shore alive, but tragically some owners do not.

“It’s easy to get caught up in enjoying time on the beach or exploring coastal areas but make sure you keep a careful eye on the sea which can easily catch out even people with extensive knowledge of tides. Also be careful where you swim – cold water shock, currents, rip tides are all factors which lead to even excellent swimmers getting into trouble.

“If you’re taking a boat out make sure you’ve checked the conditions thoroughly before going. And even if you’ve been sailing for years, take a moment to make sure you’ve got a means of contacting us in the event if things do go wrong. A VHF Radio and a fully charged mobile phone are always great to have on hand. And remember if things do go wrong or if you see someone in difficulty, don’t hesitate to radio or call 999 and ask for the Coastguard”.

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