Warning of dangers of 'tombstoning'

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Scarborough Borough Council and HM Coastguard are warning of the dangers of ‘tombstoning’, the practice of jumping into the sea from a cliff or other high points such as piers and harbour walls.

The warning comes as coastal authorities have seen a rise in the practice in recent weeks, largely down to the continuing fine weather.

Steve Hart, Senior Coastal Operations Officer for HM Coastguard said:

"We always urge people to have fun but it’s vital to stay safe when out enjoying our beaches and coastlines. Jumping from piers, cliffs, rocks or other structures into the sea can be very dangerous. The depth of the water can dramatically change with the tide, and what was a deep pool at lunchtime might be a shallow puddle by teatime. You don’t know what hazards may be lurking under the surface until you are hurt of worse. The shock of cold water may make it difficult to swim to safety and strong currents can quickly sweep people away. In the past six years there have been 16 deaths and 50 serious injuries caused by tombstoning."

Chris Burrows, Scarborough Borough Council Deputy Harbour Master added:

"We appreciate that when the sun comes out taking a dip in the sea is a popular choice to cool down, but our advice is to avoid tombstoning, no matter how tempting. While swimming in open water anywhere is not without its risks, the safest way for competent swimmers to enjoy our coast is via our local beaches, preferably on those patrolled by RNLI lifeguards, where swimming is recommended between the red and yellow flags."

Anyone seeing someone in trouble on the coast or finding themselves in difficultly should call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Those looking for adventurous activities on the coast may wish to consider joining a coasteering group with a professional and reputable adventure centre.

Picture showing the practice of 'tombstoning' in Scarborough