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Helicopter rescue sparks warning to beachgoers this Easter

COASTGUARDS are reminding people to be on their  guard if they visit the coast this Easter.

They say conditions at sea or on coastal land can change very quickly and unexpectedly, making it unpredictable and dangerous.

The warning to be prepared is supported by a couple who found themselves cut off from safety when a cliff unexpectedly collapsed across the beach they were walking on.

People are being reminded to also check Covid guidance for the area they live in before making plans as well as taking care if they’re going to the coast or beaches for day trips.

For one couple from Dorset, a quiet afternoon walk turned into a nightmare when part of a cliff collapsed cutting them off from safety.

Their walk along the beach at Charmouth had started off well – the tide was out and the shingle beach was wide. But they have been retelling the moment when they had to call 999 and ask for the coastguard and warning how easy it is to be caught out.

With a cliff fall blocking their way back to the car park and safety and their only other option – going through the sea – even more dangerous as they would have been swept away, they had only one decision they could make.

They said: “We didn’t want to make the situation worse than it already was by putting ourselves in further danger and therefore called 999 and requested assistance from the coastguard.”

The couple were winched to safety by search and rescue helicopter. They were told that another half an hour and the tide would have covered the beach where they had found themselves trapped.

They added: “Afterwards you question whether there is anything you could have done differently but we are not daft and we are not the kind of people to take unnecessary risks. This sort of thing could happen to anyone and is a stark reminder of why you always need to have your wits about you at the coast.

“More than ever, we now always make sure our mobile phones are fully charged before we head out and that we are aware of tide times.”

Jenny’s 999 call to the Coastguard

Director of HM Coastguard Claire Hughes said: “Never, ever think it won’t happen to you. We’ve heard stories from so many people, some of whom know their coastlines and tide times well, who’ve been out for walks or who are strong swimmers and experts in their watersports who have found themselves suddenly needing help because something has changed.

“Regardless of how well you know the coast, or how experienced you are in your chosen sport, the sea can still catch you out, the cliffs can prove treacherous and even a momentary lapse of concentration can put you in difficulty.

“We will always respond to those in need but all we ask is that you think twice about what you do and where you go.

“If you get into trouble at sea or on the coast call 999 and ask for the Coastguard and we will come to your aid. But coronavirus hasn’t gone away and we all need to follow the rules.

“Remember, your choices might put people, including yourself and frontline responders, at risk. Take extra care in these extraordinary times.”

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