Thanet RNLI Community Safety

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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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