The sea can very quickly turn from a tranquil and flat landscape that’s a sight to behold, to your worst enemy.

Every year thousands of people get into real, life-threatening difficulty all around our coastline. They may be washed out to sea, pulled under by a strong rip current, or simply get into the water when conditions are dangerous.

Drowned in Blackpool

On Saturday 11 July 2015, 26 year old Ashley West went for an evening out with his pals. He went into the sea but couldn’t get out – his friends tried to save him but couldn’t – and eventually the Coastguard and RNLI saved him near to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. He was taken to the Victoria Hospital but later died. Don’t let this happen to you and your friends – don’t go in the sea when the tide is in. 


The huge flat sandy beaches of Cleveleys, as with the whole of the Fylde Coast, are particularly prone to the formation of sandbanks, which are probably the number one thing which would catch most people out.

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The sea carves channels in the sand, which shift and move on a daily basis with each tide, particularly so during the heavier winds. When the tide comes back in, the water rushes through these lower lying channels and creates sandbank islands which easily cut unsuspecting people off and leave them in danger. Often, the bank can be too long to outrun, which makes for a wade through what can be deep and fast moving water.

On an incoming tide always watch what is happening behind you and be aware of your exit route back to the top reaches of beach.

Keep Away from the Edge

The other thing that can be very dangerous is wave dodging. Mainly in the winter months when the tide is very high with the wind against it, it blows the spray and waves up above the sea defences. There are points along this coastline, mainly in the Blackpool stretches, where people have been washed into the sea and have drowned, so never underestimate it, and always keep your dogs on a lead and away from the edge.

These tips are provided by the RNLI to keep you safe on any UK beach:

  • Wherever possible, always swim at a lifeguarded beach. Go to to search for listings throughout the UK and ROI.
  • Always read and obey the safety signs, usually found at the entrance to the beach. These will help you avoid potential hazards on the beach and identify the safest areas for swimming.
  • When on a lifeguarded beach, find the red and yellow flags and always swim or bodyboard between them – this area is patrolled by lifeguards.
  • Never swim alone.
  • If you get into trouble stick your hand in the air and shout for help.
  • If you see someone in difficulty, never attempt a rescue. Tell a lifeguard, or, if you can’t see a lifeguard, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and HM Coastguard (HMCG) are the government organisations responsible for preventing loss of life, continuously improving maritime safety, and protecting the marine environment in the sea around the UK.

HM Coastguard Search and Rescue team are based out of Fleetwood (in the same building as the RNLI) and cover from the Cartford Arms area on the River Wyre through to Blackpool.

There is also a team based in Lytham (in the big car park after the sand dunes on Clifton drive) that looks after Blackpool to Tickled Trout on the River Ribble. They are normally the intial contact when you ring 999 and will attend both beach and sea incidents.

Beach safety signs at Cleveleys
Beach safety signs at Cleveleys

Sandbanks on Cleveleys beach
Sandbanks on Cleveleys beach, the water comes in from behind you along the channel

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