20/07/2010

'Tombstoning' Warning Ahead Of School Holidays

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has issued a warning about the dangers of 'tombstoning' ahead of the beginning of the English school holidays.

'Tombstoning', the practice of jumping off cliffs into deep water, has been linked to a number of deaths in recent years and the MCA said that over the last month children and adults have injured themselves whilst jumping from cliffs and other high places into the sea.

Matt Pavitt, HM Coastguard's North Cornwall Sector Manager, said: "We'd like to warn people against jumping into the water from cliffs and structures such as piers and bridges. Every year, nationally, we deal with several serious injuries and some deaths as a result of this kind of activity. Tides make a massive difference and what may have been a deep lagoon could be just a shallow puddle only a couple of hours later."

Mr Pavitt also said that coastguards had to help a number of people who had been blown off shore in inflatable boats, as well as coordinate searches for numerous missing children, during June and early July.

Matt said: "Inflatable boats and toys can be great fun, but we'd rather that you used them in swimming pools than at the beach. If you do use one at the beach, tether it an adult and never use it in an offshore wind. Inflatables can easily be blown out to sea and overturn.

"Make sure that children are properly supervised. We deal with lost children every year and it can be distressing for children and adults alike. Try to go to a lifeguarded beach if you can and stay within the flagged area.

"Remember to check the weather and the tide times (these can often be found at the entrance to the beach) so that the tide doesn't take you by surprise or cut you off.

"If you see anyone in difficulty, tell the lifeguard if one is available or call the Coastguard on 999."

(KMcA/GK)

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