Rescued family join emergency services to offer safety advice following rise in Crosby mud rescues

Merseyside Water Safety Forum is calling on people out and about enjoying the coast this half term to be mindful of the terrain and take precautions to avoid getting into trouble.

Local search and rescue agencies continue to see a rise in incidents to people cut off by the tide and stuck in mud on Wirral and in the wider Merseyside area. One particular mud hotspot is Crosby beach in Sefton.

The forum – made up of representatives including the RNLI, HM Coastguard, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Services and local authorities like Sefton Council - is looking at ways to address the problem and ensure people are aware of the risks and calling on those out and about walking this half term to take heed of lifesaving advice.

Their calls are backed by a family who know from personal experience how easy it is to get into difficulty.

Zoe Smith, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire was enjoying some fresh air with the family on Crosby beach when son Monty, 13, got into difficulty. Monty jumped off one of the outflow pipes into soft mud and quickly became stuck. He was rescued by RNLI lifeguards, who patrol the area’s beaches between 10am – 4pm 365 days of the year.

Zoe said: “I panicked. One minute Monty was walking along the pipe and the next he couldn't move and had mud up to his knees. We were having a day out with some friends, there were four adults and another teenager in our party. We soon realised none of us could get near him.

“I tried to reach him, but just started sinking too. Luckily the two brilliant RNLI lifeguards who were on patrol saw the situation and came to help really quickly. They assured us all that this is a common occurrence and they would be able to get him out. It took about 15 minutes to pull him out and he was pretty much covered in mud, but at least he was free. The RNLI were just brilliant, and it will be really great to be reunited with the team who assisted Monty.”

Crosby beach is a two and a half mile wide expanse of sand, mostly backed by promenade, with a one-mile tidal range. Many visitors come to see the popular Antony Gormley sculptures, which can be partially or totally submerged depending on the state of tide.

Local figures collated during 2019 indicate Saturday was the busiest day for people requiring help, with women more likely than men to get into trouble. Most incidents occur between Seaforth Rocks and the Serpentine Slipway, with the highest number of people entering the beach from Crosby Leisure Centre. The best advice is to remain within 50m of the promenade.

New safety signage will be installed along the promenade before the start of the summer season.

Danny Jamson, Coastal Operations Area Commander (North West England and North Wales) with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: “We don’t want to discourage people from enjoying the coastline but want to ensure they are aware of the risks and do so safely. If you do find yourself in trouble, our advice is to keep as still as possible, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

“Figures from the RNLI indicate that most people who get into trouble are local people who are out and about walking and enjoying the coastline who don’t realise the dangers. There have been a number of rescues over the last 12 months that have involved multiple agencies including the RNLI, Coastguard and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service.

“In addition to these rescues, RNLI lifeguards have also carried out a number of preventative actions to educate people and talk them away from the hazard and offer safety advice.”

Merseyside Water Safety Forum’s advice to anyone walking on the coast in Crosby or elsewhere in Merseyside is:

- Plan your trip: Always seek local advice about safe areas to walk, check the tide and weather forecast and plan your route accordingly
- Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back
- Always take a means of calling for help
- Use your eyes: if it looks soft or looks like mud, it probably is, so stay off it
- Be aware that mud can appear/disappear quickly so areas of the beach that may have been mud-free half an hour previously may have mud patches on your return walk.

If you become stuck in mud:

- try to spread your weight as evenly as possible across the surface
- avoid moving and stay as calm as you can
- discourage other people from attempting to rescue you, since without the proper equipment they could become stuck too
- if you have a mobile phone, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you don’t, shout for help.

For further safety advice, please visit: