Coastguards have been called out to help people on the coastline who have become injured, lost and cold – mainly because they have been poorly prepared, according to Matt Pavitt, the coastal area operations commander for Dover.
People are warned to wrap up warm when visiting the coast – as the sea breeze will make the temperature feel even colder than it actually is, said Mr Pavitt.
People in trainers, smart leather shoes and even flip flips have been spotted ‘slipping and sliding along narrow cliff top paths’ by coastguards in recent days, he said, urging people to wear ‘sturdy walking boots or good quality outdoor shoes’.
Cliff top chalk paths are less than a metre from the edge of the cliff in places and they are very slippery, so people are strongly warned not to run, Mr Pavitt said.
Making sure you have a good phone signal and a fully charged mobile is also important, he said.
Some areas have poor or non-existent mobile phone coverage, but by staying in areas that have a good phone signal, he said: “If the worst happens, you will at least be able to call for help.” “Remember to tell someone where you are going and what time you’ll be back,” he said.
People should check the tides and weather forecast before going out, said Mr Pavitt.
“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,” he said, adding that swimmers should also take care.
“Be careful where you swim – cold water shock, currents, rip tides are all factors which lead to even excellent swimmers getting into trouble.”
Dog walkers were warned to keep 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,” he said.
“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.”
Anyone taking a boat out should check conditions thoroughly before going, he said.
“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,” he said.
“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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