Warning for those who ignore the perils of the coastline;Letter

29th May 1998 at 01:00
The article by Alf Anderson on coasteering( TES, April 17) was well written but lacked some essential safety messages. HM Coastguard's view is that such sports should be carried out only under the supervision of instructors with an intimate knowledge of the coastline and not attempted by anyone on their own, or new to such activities. We are not killjoys, but our 3,500 coastguards too often have the harrowing task of recovering someone from the water who has been injured or even killed.

We regularly produce guidance, leaflets and booklets to warn people of the dangers of the sea and coast. This year we intend to relaunch an advertising campaign, SeaSmart, along the south coast to warn of such dangers . Our advice is not to play on rocks or cliff edges; to watch for large waves as they can sweep you off your feet, even if you think you are safe; beware of being trapped by the tide; and make sure someone knows where you are.

I shall not retire with a pair of comfortable slippers as Alf suggests in his article, but, with my colleagues, will remain vigilant over some 10,500 miles of UK coastline in trying to reduce the number of mostly preventable accidents and ensure everyone has a pleasurable time at the coast - without getting hurt.

J Astbury

Chief Coastguard, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Southampton

The editor writes: The article made it clear that anyone embarking on this sport should do so through an activity centre with qualified staff. Centres are required to have suitably qualified staff under The Activity Centres (Young Persons Safety) Act of 1995. The feature also emphasised that the safest, most enjoyable, way to coasteer is with an organised group,

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