RNLI warning for Southend as high spring tides could leave beach-goers cut off
The RNLI is issuing important safety advice for visitors to Southend-on-Sea ahead of this weekend, with fears beach-goers could be cut off on the mudflats by unusually high spring tides.
With sunny weather expected to bring visitors flocking to the Essex resort, the charity which saves lives at sea, is urging visitors to check tide time tables before they visit the beaches and stay alert to changing conditions during their stay.
Over the summer the volunteer crew at Southend RNLI have seen a big rise in call outs to people cut off by the tide. On one day alone the crew rescued twelve people who were stranded in the water and unable to make it safely back to the beach without assistance by the station’s lifeboats and hovercraft.
Last month, one adult and five children were found clinging to a buoy at sea after the tide rushed in behind them and they found themselves out of their depth. Fortunately they were spotted and were rescued by one of Southend’s inshore lifeboats and safely returned to shore, but the incident could have ended far more seriously.
The problem at Southend is compounded by numerous sharp objects hidden under the water such as rocks and oyster shells. These can be seen before the tide comes in, but once the water starts rising over the mud these dangers become invisible and can leave people injured and unable to walk back to safety. Last month the station’s hovercraft rescued a person near the Mulberry Harbour after they suffered severe lacerations on their leg.
Guy Addington, RNLI Regional Water Safety Lead for the South East warns:
‘September has always been a popular time for coastal walking, however, with higher than normal spring tides forecast this weekend, areas affected by tidal cut off may be cut off faster than normal, and some areas not normally cut off may be in the coming days. Anyone heading to the coast is reminded to ensure they have enough time to return if they decide to venture further onto the beach.
‘We have beautiful stretches of coastline all across the region and Southend is a very popular location for daytrippers and locals alike, but we’re asking people to be prepared and help keep themselves safe by checking local tide times this weekend.
It’s hard to imagine how walking can turn out to be a dangerous activity, but we’ve already seen many times this year at Southend that a pleasant and seemingly safe walk out on the mudflats of the estuary can become a threat to life within minutes.
Southend RNLI, which is all paid for by public donations, is expertly equiped to undertake rescues with three lifeboats and a hovercraft, but it’s vital people know how to keep themselves as safe as possible. Check the tide time tables, keep an eye out for the incoming tide and always carry a means of calling for help. If in doubt seek local advice.’
For more information of how to stay safe on the coast this autumn, please visit the RNLI website: rnli.org.uk
Notes to editor
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Photo: Southend RNLI’s volunteer crew have three lifeboats and a hovercraft at their disposal.
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Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.