Wave craze could cost lives

WAVE dodgers playing chicken with the current spate of high tides are putting their lives at risk – and could put rescuers in peril, too.Experts say large waves have a downward thrust of an estimated six tonnes and if a person slipped or failed to get away in time it would be like being hit by a fast-moving car or van.

WAVE dodgers playing chicken with the current spate of high tides are putting their lives at risk – and could put rescuers in peril, too.

Experts say large waves have a downward thrust of an estimated six tonnes and if a person slipped or failed to get away in time it would be like being hit by a fast-moving car or van.

The force can be even more in a heavy swell backed by wind, and the fierce undertow could easily drag a youngster away to their death.

Coastguards have been astonished at the stupidity of teenagers spotted running on and off Felixstowe's beach and prom as wind-lashed waves crashed ashore.


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Ipswich sector manager for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Jo Arlow said: "It's unbelievable – I just cannot fathom why anyone would want to put themselves at risk in this way.

"These youngsters are not children and they are old enough to know better. To be running on and off the beach at high tide at night is even worse – though it doesn't matter if it's a really high tide or not, people should stay out of the way.

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"It is very dangerous and these waves have enormous power. Just look at the way they pick up pieces of the prom and toss them around like putty.

"Someone could easily slip and be dragged away, they would disappear and their body would end up somewhere else. There is a strong undercurrent and it would happen in a second."

Youths were seen not only running off the prom and on the beach as the waves came ashore and retreated, but also on the seaward-side of the floodgates in Sea Road, where a car park and gardens were flooded, as spectacular 20ft waves smashed against the prom and walls.

Mr Arlow said the youngsters, believed to be in their late teens and early 20s, were not only putting themselves at great risk but if they were lost in the sea would put rescuers at risk as well.

More high tides are expected this week and the RNLI has also warned people to be sensible as during Christmas and New Year last year lifeboats were launched a 107 times, rescuing 60 people from the bitterly cold seas around UK shores.

RNLI operations director, Michael Vlasto said: "Our volunteer lifeboat crews give up their time freely 365 days of the year and are always ready to risk their lives for others.

"If you're planning to set sail over the holiday period, make sure your boat is in tip top condition, carry spare fuel, check your engine, carry safety equipment, wear lifejackets – ensure you have enough of the correct size of lifejackets for any seasonal visitors you may have on board and finally, use your marine radio and charts.

"If walking along beaches keep clear of the water's edge in blustery weather, as unpredictable large waves can swamp you and drag you out to sea."

WEBLINK: www.lifeboats.org.uk

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