Nobody is a match for the coast

No matter how strong or fast you are, no one is a match for the coast. Just ask Akinfenwa…

We want to communicate coastal dangers to everyone, but especially young men who are more likely to be involved in accidents at the coast.

  • Why is checking tide times so important?
    Incoming tides don’t just come in from out at sea – they can also sneak up behind you and cut off your exit route, leaving you stranded and in danger. By knowing when it’s high and low tide, you can make sure you’ll get back in plenty of time without putting yourself at risk.
  • How can I tell if cliffs are stable?
    Cliffs are often more unstable than they look, and rockslides or cliff falls can happen at any time. Stay safe, keep well back from cliff edges and a good distance from the bases of cliffs.
  • Why mud?
    NEVER cross mud or quicksand as a shortcut – you can easily get stuck. Combine a sticky situation with an incoming tide, and the results could be disastrous…

Remember, in an emergency call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Stay safe on the coast - always check the tide times before you go.

About HM Coastguard

HM Coastguard helicopter hovers above a team of coastguards along the clifftop

HM Coastguard is the national maritime 999 service for search and rescue. When someone is in trouble, one of our control rooms will coordinate the response, which might include sending coastguard rescue teams, helicopters or lifeboats 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

For schools, groups and parents, we have a range of seaside safety resources that are available to order online, free of charge

Beach dangers

Crowded beach in England

To get the most out of your trip, have fun, and stay safe, make sure you check the weather and tides before heading out so that you know the sea conditions. Tide times in the UK vary around the coast depending on the position of the moon, sun and various other influences. There’s so much to tides, so make sure you understand what the differences mean and how they could affect your trip.


It’s always best to visit a lifeguarded beach if possible. You can search for your nearest lifeguarded beach on the RNLI website. Always make sure you keep an eye on children and ask your beach if they have a local wristband scheme which helps identify and reunite lost children should they wander off.


  • Always swim between the red and yellow flags: Find out more on safety flags on the RLSS website.
  • Leave inflatables at home: Inflatables can quickly be swept out to sea by currents and offshore winds, making them very dangerous when used at the beach. If you get swept out to sea, stay with your inflatable and shout for help. If you see an inflatable that’s been blown out to sea, call 999 and ask for the coastguard.
  • Rip currents: These are difficult to spot and even the most experienced swimmers can be caught off-guard. If you get caught in a rip current, don’t fight against it or try to swim back to shore – instead swim parallel to the shore until you’re free from the rip current.
  • Float to live: If you get into difficulty in the water, fight your instinct to panic or thrash around. Spread your arms and legs outwards to form a star shape and float until you can control your breathing. Only then call for help.
  • Digging in the sand: although usually harmless, digging large holes can be dangerous if the sand caves in. Avoid digging tunnels or deep pits below waist height and fill in any holes you dig before you leave the beach.

Download more seaside safety activities for kids from the Colin the Coastguard website

Coastal hazards

Dramatic coastal scenery

Cliffs can be more unstable than they look, and cliff falls/landslides can happen without warning. Preparing for your coastal walk can help you stay safe – wear appropriate footwear and clothing and stick to coastal paths. It’s also a good to make sure you tell someone where you are going and what time you’ll be back, Take note of warning signs, don’t climb fences to get to the edge and never climb the cliff as a short cut to the top.


  • On the rocks: To avoid getting caught out by the tide, check the weather and tide times before going out. Also avoid slippery and unstable rocks, take notice of signs, don’t climb up cliffs and be careful in sea caves so you don’t get trapped.
  • Dog walking: Dogs can get into trouble whilst exploring, so always keep them on a lead at the coast especially near cliff edges. If they get stuck on a ledge, in mud or swept out to sea, don’t go after them. Most dogs make it back safely, but you might not.
  • Mud and quicksand: Look out for warning signs in the area and avoid crossing bays or walking through mud for any reason. If you do get trapped, lean back and spread your weight evenly across the surface. Tell others not to try and help you, as they might get stuck too, instead call 999 for the coastguard.

Always take a mobile phone and use the free RYA SafeTrx app to track your activity

In the sea

Boat in the sea

From swimming and surfing to kayaking, boating or paddle boarding; there are many ways to enjoy your time in the sea. Whatever your activity, always think about the following:


  • Boat users: Carry the correct means of communication, use a kill cord and kill switch and know how to use them
  • Scuba divers: Familiarise yourself with new or different gear before planning deep dives and dive within your limits. Never dive alone
  • Wear a suitable personal floatation device or lifejacket for your activity
  • Carry a Personal Locator Beacon
  • Carry a VHF marine band radio onboard (fitted with DSC if possible) and learn how to use it. In an emergency call the Coastguard on channel 16

You can find further advice on the RNLI, RYA and Met Office websites.

If you are deaf or have a speech impairment, you can send an emergency SMS or use the 999 BSL emergency video relay service.

Coast Clever

Footballer Adebayo Akinfenwa relaxes on a deckchair while wearing a colourful orange tracksuit. Next to him, there is a wicker picnic basket with a pile of ham sandwiches, a flask and a mug. He is admiring the scenic view of the UK's coastline, while seagulls fly above in the blue sky.

Every year thousands of incidents happen along the clifftops and cliff bases. This is often caused by slips, trips and falls or where people have been cut off by the tide. Our Coast Clever campaign aims to caution people about coastal risks, especially mud, tides and cliffs.

We aim to show that no matter how strong or fast you are, no one is a match for the coast.

Remember these top tips:

  • Check the tide times before you head out
  • Stay clear of cliff edges and bases
  • Avoid mud
  • Take a fully charged mobile with you
  • Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard

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