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Safety on beaches

Safety tips to remember when you are at the beach, in the sea or if you go fossil hunting near coastal cliffs.

The coast, beaches and cliffs are popular rural locations for locals and visitors to enjoy the freedom of the countryside. Most visits are incident free but the guidance below is on offer to help you explore them safely.

Safety on Dorset beaches

  • beware of steep, shelving beaches and large waves
  • consider the conditions before swimming or approaching the waters edge
  • sea walls and harbours are often not fenced - take care when standing on the edge
  • Check tide times (opens in a new window) and the weather forecast. The sea comes in and out twice a day and it is possible to get cut off by the incoming tide or forced up against the cliffs

Landslides and rockfalls

  • stay away from the edge of the cliff top
  • cliff rocks fall and mud flows can happen at any time on the coast. Do not enter problem areas and keep away from the base of cliffs and landslides
  • do not walk or climb over landslide or rock fall debris, especially during and after wet weather as it is easy to get stuck in mud and quicksand

Fossil hunting

Some beaches in Dorset are the best places to hunt for fossils, especially in the winter months. We advise the following:

  • going on a guided fossil collecting walk is the best and safest way to hunt for fossils. They have the latest safety advice and run regularly
  • cliff falls and mud flows are a hazard so stay on the beach, away from the cliffs and landslides
  • only go collecting on a falling tide
  • do not hammer into the cliffs or solid rock as this will cause long lasting damage

Who to contact in case of an emergency

If you believe there is an urgent need to inform public agencies of a dangerous cliff contact the coastguard via 999.

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