News article

Tombstoning - just not worth the risk

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Stay safe this summer

Partners in Plymouth have joined forces to warn of the dangers of tombstoning – which comes with the risk of broken limbs, life changing injuries, cold water shock and death.

Devon and Cornwall Police, has teamed up with Plymouth City Council, RNLI, HM Coastguard and the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership to deliver a new campaign to educate people about the dangers of tombstoning.

Inspector Robin Loveridge, who is responsible for policing the Hoe area said: “It may seem like fun at the time but is just not worth the risk. In recent years Plymouth has seen tragedy as a result of what some consider a fun activity. This includes the death of a man when he hit the rocks jumping from the Hoe foreshore and other tragic incidents where many people have been seriously injured.

“A 17-year-old received life changing injuries and a 14-year-old was described as being ‘lucky to be alive’ after diving headfirst onto rocks and being rescued by the coastguard. I would urge parents to speak to their children and get them to understand that it is a very dangerous activity to take part in and just not worth the risks.”

Cabinet member for Customer Focus and Community Safety, Councillor Sally Haydon, said: “It is important we educate people of all ages on the dangers of tombstoning. It is essential that they understand the gravity of injuries they could receive, be that severely broken a limb, or spinal damage. Cold water shock is a particularly dangerous risk for activities in open water such as lakes or the sea, creating difficulties in breathing and body movement.

“Reports of tombstoning increase during the summer holidays, so we must do all we can to dissuade people from participating in this potentially deadly activity. We do understand that people see tombstoning as fun or thrill seeking without really thinking about the dangers, we encourage those who may be considering tombstoning to look at other adrenaline filled activities that can be done safely.”

Dangers of tombstoning include:

  • tides changing dramatically, affecting how deep the water looks, as well as obscuring rocks and other debris that can cause serious damage

  • spinal injuries; 20 per cent of tombstoning injuries are spinal – often with life changing consequences

  • cold water shock, which can affect your breathing, restrict your movement, and leave you helpless in seconds

  • drowning; 400 people drowned in coastal related incidents in the last 30 years

  • lack of easy access points to get out of the water – can people get to you if you need help?

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