The RNLI is urging people to stay safe at the coast this weekend as severe weather could make our seas particularly dangerous and unpredictable, with large waves and swells being a major risk.
The charity is advising people to stay away from the water during the storms, give waves a wide berth, and be aware that unexpected big waves can easily catch people out.
Community Safety Partner for the RNLI Steve Instance says: ‘Storm Brian is the next of the storms to be heading our way and is set to bring dangerous sea conditions for the start of the half-term break. Storm Brian has the potential to cause more damage along our coast than ex-hurricane Ophelia as it is also combined with large spring tides and a westerly wind direction. As a result, we can expect very large surf conditions all along the north coast of Devon and Cornwall. This will lead to large tidal surges and dangerous conditions. We are repeating our advice to people tempted to watch the stormy conditions unfold to “stay back, stay high and stay dry!”’
Every year, around 190 people lose their lives around the coast of Britain and Ireland. Over half of those who die didn’t plan to enter the water, with slips, trips and falls being a major factor.
Steve added: ‘People need to be aware that the coastline will be exceptionally treacherous on Saturday in particular. The large swell will mean that areas normally accessible at low tide may be cut off by storm surges. Sea walls and harbour areas may become inundated with surface flooding and large waves.
With several flood alerts in place across the South West from the Environment Agency, the RNLI is asking people to keep safe and avoid the temptation of getting too close to the stormy conditions and putting your life at risk.
If you see someone else in danger in the water, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you have something that floats or that they can hold on to, throw it to them. Don’t go in the water yourself – too many people drown trying to save others.
The charity is advising that if you find yourself in the water unexpectedly, to relax and float on your back to catch your breath and try to grab hold of something to keep you afloat. The initial shock of being in cold water can cause you to gasp and panic but these initial effects pass in less than a minute, so don’t try to swim straight away. Keep calm and catch your breath, then call for help, or swim for safety if you’re able to.