Thanet RNLI Community Safety

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Do you live or work near to the coast? Want to help the RNLI with coastal safety?
Do you live or work near to the coast? Want to help the RNLI with coastal safety?

Do you live or work near to the coast? If so you could be involved with the RNLI in producing innovative Water Safety Sand Signage.

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Sand signage – giving beach visitors warning about tides Photo credit: RNLI
When will you be asked to do this?

These signs are used to highlight local hazards and conditions so when you will be asked to do this can be variable. You will be linked with a local member of the RNLI Lifesaving team to identify times and patterns when this signage will be effective.

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Thanet Tidal Cut-Off hotspot: Kingsgate Bay, Broadstairs. Photo credit: Thanet RNLI Community Safety Team
Where will you asked to do this?

This will be in your local area and works best on sandy beaches with a high elevation that the public can view the messaging from. Sand Signage is proven to be a highly effective way of providing messaging which is local and timely.  For example on the Isle of Thanet current tidal cut-off areas are: Dumpton Gap, Stone Bay and environs, Kingsgate Bay; and Botany Bay. 

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Why are the RNLI asking for people to help out?

The RNLI are looking for support from within the local communities to deliver this; together the RNLI truly believes that they can save lives. Over half the people that get into trouble in the water didn’t expect to get wet. The RNLI needs support from local people to deliver this timely, adaptable messaging.

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Interested in signing up?

Simply click below on this link and follow the instructions

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Any questions?

Please contact the RNLI Water Safety Team 

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Want to find out more about water safety or drowning prevention?

Why not sign-up to our newsletter

Other quick ways of volunteering

RNLI Local Ambassador opportunities

How to help the RNLI share it’s safety messages

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Thank you for reading and stay safe!


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Ramsgate’s Inshore Atlantic 85 Lifeboat. Photo credit: Sarah Hewes

Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)

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How Can You Help The RNLI – Help You? RNLI Local Ambassador Scheme

How Can You Help The RNLI – Help You? – RNLI Local Ambassador Scheme

The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) relies on help and commitment from members of the public in numerous ways:  donating money, giving up their free time to volunteer in souvenir shops, fundraising projects, crewing lifeboats, lifeboat launch teams, station visit officers, water safety and educational roles; or lifeboat Launch Authorities.

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If you are an avid follower of our social media and blog pages you will seen the RNLI Local Ambassador campaign was advertised during Summer 2020.  Even though we are still a few months still off the Summer we are again asking for your help.  The coast is an amazing place to visit at any time of the year, bringing different experiences and sights/sounds for everyone to enjoy.

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As there are less people about to spot an animal or person in difficulty in the water it is imperative that everyone stays alert to coastal emergencies.  That is why we are asking anyone who runs a business, lives close to the coast, takes part in any form of coastal based sporting activity or who visits it regularly to help us publicise the joint RNLI and HM Coastguard message: “In an emergency dial ‘999’ for the Coastguard”…..

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Becoming an RNLI Local Ambassador

To be a Local Ambassador you don’t need to spend hours of your very valuable time helping the RNLI.  Simply by printing off one of the downloadable posters and displaying it in your premises or venue, sharing water safety posts or video’s on social media; and chatting to visitors and friends about coastal safety will be invaluable in getting the message across to as wide an audience as possible and helping to save someone’s life.  We have received great support so far in sharing the Ambassador scheme from Batchelors Patisserie in Margate, Broadstairs Town Council and Visit Broadstairs

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Here are some of the incidents that the Coastguard should be contacted (not exhaustive):

  • Person in the water
  • Someone shouting or waving for help from a boat or other water craft
  • Someone stuck on/fallen from a cliff
  • Someone stuck in coastal mud or quicksand
  • Boat or other water craft sinking or on fire
  • Person(s) floating out sea on a lilo or inflatable
  • Distress flare sighted
  • Persons jumping from quay walls or harbours putting themselves in danger
  • Persons ‘wave dodging’ and putting themselves at risk
  • Someone who has gone: kayaking/sailing/swimming/canoeing/fishing/climbing/surfing/kitesurfing/walking/diving at the coast and is not back at the time that they said they would be
  • Boat aground
  • Someone injured on the beach
  • Someone cut-off by the tide
  • Child(ren) lost at the beach
  • Marine pyrotechnic’s (flares) or military ordnance found on a beach

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The five key beach safety tips from the RNLI and Coastguard which should be shared when chatting to visitors:

  • Have a plan

Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage

  • Keep a close eye on your family -on the beach and in the water

Don’t allow your family to swim alone

  • Don’t use inflatables

They are meant for pool use only and are high risk on the beach

  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly – Float to live

Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs and float

  • In an emergency dial ‘999’ and ask for the Coastguard

Remember to follow the current government safety guidance around the COVID-19 pandemic

You can also point people towards the RNLI Water Activity Safety pages for detailed information about water safety activity

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What to do if someone is in trouble in the water

Working, carrying out your favourite water sport or living close to the coastline/beach you may be the first to hear or see someone in trouble in the sea.  Know what to do in an emergency:


Keep a constant eye on the casualty, dial ‘999’ and ask for the Coastguard straight away giving an accurate location.  Have you downloaded the What3Words App yet?


Talk to the casualty, encourage them to keep calm and float. Reassure them that you are getting help.


Try to reach them from the shoreline using any lifesaving equipment available.  Do not enter the water yourself.


Throw a line to the casualty and pull them towards the shore if possible.

Is there a community defibrillator available?  Note the location of your nearest defibrillator for future use. 

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By becoming an RNLI Local Ambassador you will be instilling valuable water safety knowledge and drowning prevention advice to visitors and local people alike. The more people who are alert and looking out for coastal emergencies will in turn provide an safer environment for everyone to enjoy leisure pursuits and relax at the coast.

Thank you for all your support which is hugely appreciated!  If you require further information please drop our team a DM on Facebook or Instagram. 

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Other useful links

RNLI Local Ambassador Scheme

Sign-up to our newsletter

Ramsgate Lifeboat

Margate Lifeboat

How to have a fabulous, but safe time at the coast with your dog


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Royal National Lifeboat Institution

HM Coastguard

RNLI Water Safety Team

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How To Get Ready For The Easing Of Lockdown Restrictions – Water Users Guide
How To Get Ready For The Easing Of Lockdown Restrictions – Water Users Guide

You will have no doubt be aware of the the governments recent announcement of their roadmap for the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown restrictions across England and the respective government announcements for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Many people will be looking forward to getting back out onto the water again and enjoying their hobbies which they have been unable to pursue due to the restrictions brought on by the pandemic.

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With many boats and craft been unable to be used and or checked during the lockdown we have put together this brief guide on how to prepare when the lockdown restrictions are gradually lifted and you are once again able to get out on the water:

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Engine Maintenance

The vast majority of boats engines will not have been able to be run and or maintained during the lockdown restrictions.  It is imperative that your engine is checked over, maintained and or serviced by a qualified service technician before you get back out on the water to avoid any issues or having to call out the services of a lifeboat and or the HM Coastguard when you get back on the water.

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The RYA run engine maintenance courses (many are now on-line) and the majority of harbour’s or marina’s will have their own service centre’s available to offer assistance. If you are in any doubt about the serviceability of your engine always consult a qualified service technician.  Fuel is often a contributory factor in a significant number of lifeboat and HM Coastguard call-outs to boats with engine problems on the water and you are recommended to get your fuel situation checked out before heading out.  It is imperative to change your fuel and oil filters, dip your fuel tank to ensure that there is contamination particularly where the boat has been berthed unused for a time.

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Lifejacket Maintenance and Checks

Your lifejacket is a vital piece of safety equipment that should be worn not matter the weather or sea conditions.  Therefore it is vital that you get your lifejackets checked before going out onto the water.  Unfortunately, due to the safety restrictions we have been unable to undertake our usual round of lifejacket clinic’s at local yacht clubs and events.  We have previously published a brief guide on how to check your lifejacket.  Our recommendation is that you get your lifejackets serviced regularly by a service agent.  If you are in any doubt about the serviceability of a lifejacket always consult a local chandler or service agent never take a risk as your life could depend on your lifejacket working correctly.

Wearing a lifejacket will buy you precious time until help arrives. Correctly fitted and maintained, a lifejacket will help you to float even if you’re unconscious. It dramatically increases your chances of survival if you fall into the water. If you’re in the sea and you’re wearing a lifejacket, you’re four times more likely to survive* Professor Mike Tipton Portsmouth University

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Battery Power

Batteries when left unused for significant periods of time will often lose their charge so it is imperative that you undertake a full audit and thorough check of all batteries that you possess including spares to ensure that they are haven’t developed any corrosion or faults during their storage period.  If you are in any doubt about the serviceability of a battery replace it or seek advice from a qualified service agent or supplier.

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Grab Bags and First Aid Equipment

Over time and subject to cold air/water in ingress items stored in grab bags and or on-board your boat or water craft can start to degrade unless stored according to manufacturers guidelines.  Kit that you would rely on in an emergency situation may have become degraded.  Therefore it is imperative to carry out a thorough check of all your grab bags, first aid kit and ancillaries that you carry before you go out onto the water after a period of inactivity.

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Servicing of Winches

It is also highly important to service winches at regular intervals to prevent inevitable problems with sails.

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Do You Know Your Safety Drills?

We have included a safety check list below as an aide memoire to refresh your drills before you head out onto the water.  John Homer one of our Community Safety Team says “Our advice is be always be prepared when you go to sea and have a well rehearsed plan should things go wrong. During the lockdown restrictions many people haven’t been able to get to their boats or craft to carry out servicing plans.  Our advice is to get things checked over before you go out.  If you are not sure get some qualified help.  What appears to be an insignificant issue that can be fixed easily in the harbour or marina, could be a huge issue if you are out at sea”.

Safety checklist
  • Always wear an appropriate lifejacket for the activity
  • Always carry a means of calling and signalling for help eg VHF radio, flares, fully charged mobile phone
  • Ensure there is an emergency action plan in place and everybody has an onboard briefing (in particular on the location and use of the safety equipment, including the spare kill cord for powerboats). Your crew members should be able to use all equipment competently and call for help on the radio when necessary.  The RYA run a wide range of courses which cater from novice upwards
  • Get the right level of training for your craft
  • Always check the weather and tide times
  • Make sure someone ashore knows where you are going and who to call if you don’t return on time. Consider using the SafeTrx smart device app
  • Always drive your boat at a speed that is appropriate to the weather conditions and to the environment you are operating in

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COVID-19 Pandemic Safety Protocols

Continue to adhere to the appropriate COVID-19 pandemic safety protocols wherever you visit and always check first with the relevant harbour or marina office what their particular risk assessment dictates.

Thank you for reading and take care!

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Further useful links

Engine Maintenance – RYA

Check Your Engine – RNLI

Emily’s Code 

Wearing A Lifejacket RNLI

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Professor Mike Tipton – Portsmouth University


HM Coastguard

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PaddleBoarding – How to have a fun, but safe time!
PADDLE BOARDING – How to have a fun, but safe time!

Paddle Boarding or SUP,  has really caught on in recent years, seeing a real growth whether it’s on a solid paddleboard or an inflatable one.  The SUP’ing is an excellent way to improve your fitness, including your core strength.

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A number of SUP schools have sprung up across East Kent, providing enthusiasts with a good choice of locations and instructors. Equipment has also come down in price, enabling people who wouldn’t have dreamed of having ago, the opportunity to participate in this exciting hobby.

Whether you are a complete novice or more experienced, it’s always useful to have a few tips up your sleeve which will help improve your overall SUP experience.

Here are some top tips to help keep you safe

  •  Aim to always go with a mate, that way if one of you gets into difficulty, there’s someone to either call for help or go for help. It is also much better fun, especially so you can share your experiences later on over a cuppa and something nice to eat.

  • Check the weather forecast and tide times before you set out.  There are plenty of smart device   app’s that are available to dowload for weather forecasts and tide times.   Conditions can change very quickly, so, if you are a beginner starting out in weather/conditions which are on the edge of your experience/competency level could create issues later on. It is better off, finishing your SUP session and trying another day if the conditions are starting to get beyond your competency level.
  • If you are Paddleboarding on your own, always tell someone where you are going and the latest time that you will return. Always carry a mobile phone in a waterproof case and or a VHF radio.

  • Planning on taking some photo’s with your phone? Make sure you keep it in a waterproof pouch. If it gets wet you will still be able to use it to call for help in an emergency too.

  • Avoid offshore winds. They will quickly blow your paddleboard far out to sea, which can make it extremely tiring and difficult to paddle back to shore.  If you are on a lifeguarded beach keep an eye out for the orange windsock being displayed which indicates that an off-shore wind is belowing.

  • Grab some training. It is very tempting to just purchase a board and head straight out. Grabbing a few training sessions from an approved trainer or SUP school can help you with the right skills, so you stand-up more than falling into the water when you don’t need to.

  • Wear a suitable personal flotation device. This can be a buoyancy aid or a lifejacket.  It will help  keep you afloat, but it will also help give you time to recover should you fall in which you are very likely to do!!

  • Always wear a leash. It is incredibly frustrating having to swim after your paddleboard if you fall off. The leash will also help you stay connected to your board if you get into trouble and help you float.  Lifeboat crews and Coastguard Teams always recommend holding onto your board as makes it easier to find you if they have to launch a search.
RNLI Beach Flags
  • If you are launching on a beach which is patrolled by lifeguards, make sure you launch and recover between the black and white chequered flags. There should be less swimmers in this area, giving you more room to manoeuvre. Consider other water users by learning the rights of way in the surf. This can save you and others from receiving injuries.

  • Wear the right clothing for the time of year. In winter time, you will need to use a wet suit. In the summer, a bathing costume maybe more suitable. But, if you are going to be in the water for a lengthy periods of time, you might want to upgrade to kit that keeps you warm.  Getting cold and miserable in the water can lead to you making errors, losing concentration and ultimately getting into difficulty.

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  • Many water sport enthusiasts are downloading and using SafeTRx. This is a free smart device app monitors your journey that can alert emergency contacts should you fail to arrive at your predetermined check-in points. It allows you to track a journey on your smart phone. Open water swimmers, kayakers, divers and sailors regularly use this app.  The HM Coastguard can also monitor overdue craft.  More information on SafeTrx

  • Know who to call for a Coastal Emergency.  If you think you hear or see an an animal or person in difficulty in the water or at the coast call ‘999’ or ‘112’ and ask for the Coastguard giving an accurate location, how many people are involved and describe what is happening.
Ramsgate’s Atlantic 85 Inshore Lifeboat


In 2017 there were 28 lifeboat launches and 141 lifeguard call-outs to paddleboarders requiring assistance.

Useful Links

British Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Our ultimate guide to finding a lifeguarded beach in East Kent



HM Coastguard

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Why Should You Carry A VHF Radio If You Are A Kayaker, Sailor, Personal Water Craft user or Fishermen

Why Should You Carry A VHF Radio – If You Are A Kayaker, Sailor, Paddle Boarder, Personal Water Craft user or Off-Shore Fishermen

Regularly at community events our team are asked why should you carry a VHF radio if you are a kayaker, dingy sailor, paddle boarder, personal water craft user, or off-shore fishermen when they could use their mobile phone instead if they get into difficulty?  Even if you are not going far offshore you might not be able to get a mobile phone signal.  Wet mobile phones don’t work very well and who knows what sea or weather conditions you may experience. 

More specialist equipment may be needed to ensure that if you find yourself in difficulty you can easily alert the HM Coastguard so that they can deploy the appropriate search and rescue assets to locate you quickly.  Tracking someone’s position when a call is made using a mobile phone is difficult, whereas the VHF radio it is much easier.  

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National Maritime Operation Centre (NMOC) Photo credit: HM Coastguard

A handheld VHF radio Radio is a vital piece of safety kit for all mariners who venture out on the water whether offshore or on our inland waterways such as canals, lakes or rivers. VHF marine radio’s are used for a variety of purposes: speaking with harbour & marina control, alerting the Coastguard to an incident, weather information, ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship communication.  

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A handheld VHF radio is a fairly inexpensive piece of safety kit to buy and are relatively simple to use under pressure.  There is a multitude of good quality radio’s on the market and can be purchased over the internet without the need to visit a supplier in person. If you purchase a VHF radio it is recommended by both the HM Coastguard and RNLI that you get one that is Digital Selective Calling (DSC) equipped.

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DSC button on the rear of this VHF radio

This is a red coloured button that when pressed sends out a pre-defined automated signal of the vessel’s location via medium frequency (MF), high frequency (HF) and very high frequency (VHF) maritime radio systems. It is a core part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and is a recognised emergency signal.  The more newer models will also send your GPS co-ordinates as well.

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Ramsgate’s All Weather Lifeboat Photo credit: Ramsgate Lifeboat

After pressing the DSC button the vessel/craft/person will need to make a mayday voice call (Mayday is the international signal to notify a life-threatening distress situation) on Channel 16. Channel 16 is the universal emergency channel monitored continuously by HM coastguard and other nearby vessels. This communicates the distress message to the Coastguard, all vessels and shore stations in range. The message should contain:

  • Name of your craft or vessel (if applicable)
  • Your call sign (if applicable)
  • Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) – 9 digit registered number helps identify your vessel
  • Your position – It can be given in either Latitude and Longitude or as the bearing and distance from a known geographic point
  • Nature of your distress
  • Number of people on board including the radio operator
  • Ask for immediate assistance
  • Any other information – This should include any information that might help the SAR authorities locate the vessel and assist in the distress. Such as the vessel’s colour, type of craft, the activation of an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), flares etc.. It is also helpful to give the rate and direction of drift if this is applicable.

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Grave and Imminent Danger

A Mayday call is only to be used in the case of “grave and imminent danger to a vessel or persons, such as vessel sinking, MOB (man-over-board) or fire”. A Mayday call is considered to be so serious that in many countries anyone communicating a false Mayday call could be prosecuted in the courts. It is solely intended to save lives.

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The operation of a VHF radio requires by law a SRC (Short Range Certificate) operator’s licence and a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number, which comes with the radio licence. The course instructs users in radio etiquette and procedure. The operation of a VHF radio itself is a fairly straightforward course which also teaches you about digital selective calling (DSC) functionality and emergency procedures.

You can find out where your nearest radio course is run by checking out this link

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Kayakers, personal watercraft users and dingy sailors maybe concerned about the amount of space that a radio takes up, that the battery life doesn’t last long and that it could get wet.  Many of the VHF handheld radio’s on the market are buoyant, waterproof and have a long battery life ideal incase of an emergency situation arising.

Keep Your Radio Close At Hand

It is essential to keep the VHF radio close to hand and not stowed in a dry bag in your kayak or craft.  Several kayakers have very sadly died as they couldn’t access their handheld radio or mobile phone to call for help when they got into difficulty at the coast.

In what situations do you use a Pan-Pan call?

Your may craft or vessel may have broken down and you have been left floating for some time, or have suffered significant structural damage to your craft that means your progress is very slow. Someone on board may have been taken ill, but their condition is not immediately life threatening these are the types of incidents to use a Pan-Pan call.

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Repeating the Pan-Pan call three times says to other sailors/craft/Coastguard “it is serious we need assistance but there isn’t a grave and imminent danger to the boat or anyone on board”.  For a pan-pan call the red DSC button should not be activated, but is still broadcast on channel 16 on high power. Much of the information you would provide in a Mayday call you will still need to communicate in a Pan-Pan call:

Name of vessell, Your call sign, MMSI, location, the distress nature and your intended action.  

Thank you for reading this blog and we hope that it has been useful. Stay safe!

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HM Coastguard

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More useful links

Kayaker and canoeists safety advice – Thanet RNLI Community Safety

Calling for help at the coast, but which device should I get – Thanet RNLI Community Safety

Inland Waterways Association – why do we need VHF

Marine Radio – Short Range Certificate (SRC)

lifejacketchecks RNLI RNLICommunitysafety thanet
How to have a fabulous, but safe time at the coast with your dog

How to have a fabulous, but safe time at the coast with your dog

There is nothing better than enjoying a lovely walk with your dog at the coast taking in sea air, grabbing some exercise and enjoying time with your friends and family.  However, lifeboat crews and Coastguard Rescue Teams (CRT) are frequently called out to rescue dogs that have entered the water for one reason or another or fallen over the edge of a cliff.  Sometimes their owners will enter the water to try and rescue them too. In 2019 RNLI crews were launched 157 times to incidents involving dogs.

What should I do to keep myself and my four legged friend safe?

So, to help keep yourself safe whilst enjoying a lovely walk with your doggie here are some safety tips:

  • Let someone know where you are going and what time you will be back
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times, tides can sweep in very quickly
  • Read and take on board warning advice displayed at beach entrances
  • Keep your dog on a lead if you are walking close to cliff tops/edges or fast flowing rivers.
  • Check the tide times and weather before you head out. Thanet’s tidal cut-off high risk areas : Dumpton Gap, Botany Bay, Kingsgate Bay; and Stone Bay and environs

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  • Always carry a ‘calling for help’ device such as a fully charged mobile phone which is stored in a waterproof case which is easily accessible
  • If your dog enters the water or gets stuck in mud, don’t go in after them. Re-locate to a place of safety and call them – it is highly likely that your dog will get to safety themselvesCOVID19 CoronaVirus knowwhotocall respectthewater RNLIwatersafety RNLICommunitysafety RNLIseasafety Ramsgatelifeboat Margatelifeboat Bewateraware Broadstairsbeach margatebeaches ramsgatebeaches COVID19Thanet COVID19 Coronavirus

The compilation above shows RNLI dog rescues from 2018 Credit : RNLI

The above video clip shows a lady and her dog being rescued by New Brighton lifeboat after getting stuck in mud (February 2019). Coastguard Rescue Team Crosby were tasked but were stood down en-route.

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Rhyl Dog Rescue – Photo credit: RNLI

On August Bank Holiday weekend a dog was rescued by Rhyl lifeboat after swimming too far out to sea whilst trying to catch seagulls.  There was initial worry the owner would attempt to rescue the dog, but on the Coastguard’s advice, remained on the beach, keeping the dog in sight.

The lifeboat was launched within eleven minutes of the call, together with the volunteers from the Rhyl Coastguard rescue team.  The dog was happily reunited with it’s very grateful owner uninjured. 

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A lovely doggie and their owner visiting one of our Water Safety Events in 2019 Photo credit: Thanet RNLI community Safety

Ian Lockyer, one of our Community Safety Team who is a huge dog lover says “there is nothing like a walk along the coast with my dogs and family, but I always make sure that I have a plan should things go wrong.  If you do hear or see an animal or person in difficulty in the water don’t hesitate call ‘999’ and ask for the Coastguard”.

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Margate Inshore Lifeboat Photo credit: Margate Lifeboat

Coastal Dog Safety Events

From time to time our Community Safety Team run coastal dog safety events around the Thanet coast sharing safety advice by giving out free doggie treats and tennis balls. Keep tuned to our social media channels to find out when they are taking place. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

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Thank you for reading and stay safe!

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Other useful links:

Half-term fun and dogs

Get involved in RNLI Community Safety?

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Our Community Safety Team enjoying chatting to dog walkers at Dumpton Gap in 2019


Royal National Lifeboat Institution

HM Coastguard

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Out for a coastal or beach walk during half-term? Learn how to Be Coast Safe


The Isle of Thanet coast has some of the most beautiful beaches and coastline in the UK which draws visitors at all times of the year (nineteen miles of coastline in fact).  Exploring the coastline on foot is an excellent way of enjoying valuable time with family and friends, whilst grabbing fresh air, exercise and at the same time relaxing.  Holiday times are great occasions to get out and enjoy the coast.

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If you are living close to the coast and want to explore during half-term or maybe you are working from home then a stroll along the coast maybe the best antidote for getting some headspace so that you can return to your laptop fully energised and ready for the next meeting on Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Lifeboat crews and HM Coastguard teams are regularly called out to walkers who have got into difficulty either in the water, mud or on the cliff’s.

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Kingsgate Bay, Broadstairs – Tidal Cut-Off High Risk area

Is coastal walking a safe activity?

Coastal walking is one of the safest activities going, but it does account for one of the highest proportion of death’s on the coast. One of the reasons for this is that people are not expecting to enter the water.  Andy Mills, one of our Community Safety Team says “we want everyone to have a fabulous time whilst enjoying their lovely coastal walk. But, take a few precautions which will help you significantly if you run into difficulty on your walk”.

Why not have a look at our team’s top safety tips below to help you stay safe:

1.  Should I carry a ‘calling for help’ device – Yes, such as a fully charged mobile phone or VHF radio preferably carried in a waterproof bag or case.

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2.  Check the tides times and weather before you head out. Find out more here

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3.  Should I wear extra clothing for a coastal walk?

Wear the right clothing for the activity as weather and conditions can change quickly. Packing a rain coat and a fleece in a backpack will help you prepare for inclimate conditions.

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Lifeboat crew member wearing the new Helly Hansen personal protective equipment

4.  Should I let someone know where we are going and what will be the latest time you will be back. Yes, always let someone know the route you will be taking and the time you will return.

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5.  Cliff edges can be slippery at all times of the year particularly around the sea and close to water. It doesn’t have to be a high cliff edge to cause you a problem.  Walking around coastal areas during the hours of darkness has an additional level of risk attached to it. Be prepared and carry a torch, wear stout walking shoes, pre-plan your route and have a plan should something go wrong.

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6.   If you hear or see an animal or person in difficulty in the water or at the coast dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ straight away and ask for the coastguard.  More information on knowing who to call in a coastal emergency.

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7.  If you do end up in the water follow the RNLI’s ‘Float For Your Life’ drill – float on your back until you can get your breath back and either call for help or self-rescue. More information on Float to Live

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8. Have you heard of the What3Words App?  Emergency services have managed to locate quickly people in need of urgent help by using this free app. More information check out our blog

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Photo credit: What3Words

Useful Statistics

  • 201 fatalities amongst walkers and runners 2011-2015
  • 499 rescues people who had been tide in 2016
  • 478 call-outs to walkers and runners in 2016 (UK and ROI)

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More Useful Links

How to Be Coast Safe

RNLI Water Safety campaign – Respect the Water

Don’t Paddle After Your Dog

HM Coastguard – Waves and Wind – Top Safety Tips

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Two of Thanet’s Tidal Cut-Off Areas : Botany Bay and Kingsgate Bay




HM Coastguard

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High and Low Tide Explained!

High and Low Tide Explained –  by Ian Lockyer

Although we give out a lot of advice about how to check for tide times, we still get a lot of enquiries about the fundamental issue of ‘what is a High and Low tide’.  Here we try to explain this a simply as possible. 

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Essentially, tides are the rise and fall of the levels of the ocean. Tides change as the Moon rotates around the Earth and as the position of the Sun changes. Throughout the day, the sea level is continuously rising or falling. This cycle can happen once or twice a day, depending on the location of the area to the Moon. 

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When the sea level is rising or falling, water is flowing to or from the ocean creating the following tides: 

  • High tide is the point in the tidal cycle where the sea level is at its highest.
  • Low tide is the point in the tidal cycle where the sea level is at its lowest.

stormyweather respectthewater RNLIcommunitysafety thanet broadstairs beweatheraware metoffice bewaterawareThere are other tides called Spring and Neap tides. A Spring Tide occurs when the Sun and the Moon are aligned to combine for the largest tidal range of the highest high tide and the lowest Low Tide. A Neap tide is when the tidal range is at its smallest. This occurs during the first and third quarters of the Moon.

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It is important to know the difference of these tides when planning your activities around the coast.  You could become stranded if you misjudged the tides when walking or running around the coast.

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An excellent follow-up article should you wish to plan your activities around the coast is ‘Do you know how to check the tide time?

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If you decide to visit the coast please stay up-to-date with the government’s COVID-19 pandemic legislation. Thank you for reading and stay safe.

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Bird Watching Or Birding At The Coast – How To Stay Safe Close To Water
Bird Watching or Birding At The Coast – How To Stay Safe Close To Open Water

Bird watching or birding I am sure you will agree can be an absolutely fabulous hobby.  Certainly during lockdown those enjoying bird watching have increased due to the uplifting role it can play by increasing wellbeing and getting closer to nature. The RSPB reports that during lockdown they have seen a 69% increase in website traffic compared with the same time in 2019.

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According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) three million adults go bird watching or birding every year in the UK*.  It can be enjoyed through the naked eye or using binoculars, a telescope, by listening to bird sounds or by watching public webcams.

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What Equipment Do I Need To Go Bird Watching?

Equipment commonly used for birding includes binoculars, a spotting scope with tripod, a smart device, a notepad and one or more field guides. Hides are often used to conceal the observers from birds and or to improve viewing conditions. The majority of optic manufacturers sell specific binoculars for birding with some gearing their whole brand to birders.

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What Is The Bird Watching Code?

It is vitally important to safeguard the interests of birds, so with that in mind The Bird Watching Code has been produced:

  1. Avoid disturbing birds and their habitats – the birds’ interests should always come first.
  2. Be an ambassador for bird watching.
  3. Know the law and the rules for visiting the countryside and follow them.
  4. Send your sightings to the County Bird Recorder and the Birdtrack website.
  5. Think about the interests of wildlife and local people before passing on news of a rare bird, especially during the breeding season.

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What COVID-19 Precautions Should I Take Whilst Bird Watching?

Before taking part in any bird watching activity the government website should be consulted for the latest up-to-date advice on how to stay safe.

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What Safety Precautions Should I Take When I Go Bird Watching At the Coast or Beside Open Water?

Before venturing out for your bird watching session at the coast or beside open water you should consider the following advice which will help you stay safe, whilst at the same time help  you enjoy your fabulous hobby:

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  1. Carry a calling for help device like a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof case so that you can call for help if you get into difficulty or come across someone in trouble.

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2.  Check out the weather and tide times before you venture out of the door. There are plenty of app’s which are free to download and use for every type of smart devices.

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3.  Tell someone where you are going and the latest time you will be back.

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4. Read all warning signs on the approach to coastal area’s and take heed of the advice.

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5. Be aware of your surroundings at all times as tides and conditions can change very quickly.

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6. If you get into difficulty at the coast or on the River Thames dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ ask for the Coastguard straight away giving as an accurate location as possible.  If you are inland at a canal, river, loch or other area of open water ask for the Fire Service.

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7. Don’t enter the water if you get cut-off by the tide – shout for help and dial ‘999’ ask for the Coastguard. Don’t attempt to enter the water.

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8. Download and use the What3Words app on your smart device. This will help you ascertain your location quickly in the event of an emergency.  It will also help you map your location if you need to meet up with friends to bird watch.

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9. If you end up in the water Float on Your Back until you get your breath back and calm down. Then call for help.

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10. Cliff’s can be more unstable than they look and cliff falls/landslides can happen without warning. Don’t climb fences to get to the edge and never climb the cliff as a short cut to the top.  


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Stay Safe

John Homer (RNLI Community Safety Advisor) “We really hope that you enjoy your bird watching as it is a fabulous hobby, just by taking a few sensible precautions can mean you having a day to remember for the right reasons. Stay safe”.

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How can I find out further information on bird watching and staying safe at the coast?

Learn more about the work of the RSPB 

Bird Watching

Find out how to float to live

Want to find out more about water safety and drowning prevention? Why not sign up for our e-newsletter.

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Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

HM Coastguard

Royal National Lifeboat Institution

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Foot Note

* 2.85 million adults aged over 15 in Britain go bird watching regularly or occasionally (Target Group Index, BMRB International 2004).

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Know Who To Call If You Spot Washed Up Military Ordnance or Discarded Pyrotechnics?
Know Who To Call If You Spot Washed Up Military Ordnance or Discarded Pyrotechnics At The Coast

Our team are regularly asked at events who to call in the event of someone finding legacy military ordnance or a marine pyrotechnic (flare) on the beach or in the sea.  Amongst some of the HM Coastguard’s multifaceted roles includes investigating objects which have been washed up onto the coastline which may present a danger to coastal users.  During a spate of bad weather legacy military ordnance is often washed up onto our beaches. From time to time discarded pyrotechnic’s are also discovered.

Military Ordnance washed up onto the beach – Photo credit: Greenock CG Rescue Team

HM Coastguard advice:

  • In all cases if you ever come across something at the coast or sea which you believe could be military ordnance or a marine pyrotechnic dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ straight away and ask for the Coastguard
  • Move away to a place of safety
  • Never touch the item or move it
  • Warn others of the possible danger
  • Always call for help if you are in any doubt whatsoever

Coastguard explosion proof box with kit (photo credit Greenock CG Rescue Team)

The Coastguard Operations Centre will then task one of their 24/7 on-call Coastguard Rescue Teams (CRT’s) to investigate the find.  Once on scene they will undertake an examination of the item to ascertain if it is either military ordnance or a discarded pyrotechnic.  If it is a pyrotechnic the item will be removed and transported for safe disposal.

Flares found on the beach – Picture credit: Adrossan Coastguard

If the CRT believe it is military ordnance they will request the attendance of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team from the British Army or Royal Navy dependant on where the find is located.   Whilst setting up a cordon to ensure public safety awaiting the arrival of the military team.

Picture credit: HM Coastguard Margate

The military EOD team will conduct a thorough risk assessment and detailed examination of the item. The operator will either remove the item back to their base for safe disposal or carry out a controlled explosion at the scene with a safe cordon in place. Police and other other ‘blue light services’ may also be called upon to assist if required.

Further reading:

Controlled explosion for device washed up on Studland Beach

Selsey Coastguard controlled explosion on Medmerry Beach

HM Coastguard roles and responsibilities

Adrossan Coastguard WordPress – blog

How to dispose of time expired pyrotechnic’s (flares) – Thanet CS Team

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HM Coastguard

Margate, Greenock and Ardrossan Coastguard Rescue teams for pictures