The RNLI and Bridgend Council have warned people of the dangers of jumping into water from height – or tombstoning – after a man suffered serious injuries in Porthcawl on Sunday.
Lifeboat crew volunteers from Porthcawl RNLI rushed to assist a man who broke his ankle and suffered lacerations to his feet after jumping into shallow water off the slipway at Porthcawl Harbour.
The man, who was in his 30s, jumped from about 6-7ft into murky water he thought was deep enough to be safe. But in fact the water was just four feet deep and he hit rocks below.
Porthcawl RNLI Helm Carl Evans, who as a volunteer lifeboat crew member is fully first aid trained, attended the scene and stabilised the casualty, who had managed to swim to the bottom of the slipway.
Carl, supported by fellow Porthcawl RNLI Helm Simon Emms, stabilised the man’s leg and treated his cuts. They made sure he was comfortable and cool and administered oxygen until paramedics arrived.
Porthcawl Coastguard Search and Rescue team members were also in attendance.
Phil Missen, Porthcawl RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: ‘This incident reminds us how dangerous jumping into water from height – or tombstoning – can be.
‘Water changes depth with the tide, so the water may be shallower than it looks. Submerged items may not be visible and can cause serious injury or paralysis if you hit them. The water can also be a lot colder than it looks so the shock of cold water may make it difficult to swim.
‘It’s really important that people think about the possible dangers. We want people to be in a position to make better, more informed choices to keep themselves and others safe.
‘Coasteering with a registered company may be a safer alternative. Anyone considering jumping into the sea from height should always check for hazards in the water like submerged rocks, check the depth of the water knowing that, for example, a jump of 10m requires a depth of at least 5m. People should never jump while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or peer pressure. Also it is important to check for access because it may be impossible to get out of the water.’
A Bridgend County Borough Council spokesman said: ‘We’re very keen to highlight the dangers of jumping into unknown waters. In Porthcawl, anyone leaping into the sea off the breakwater or slipway is also very near to Porthcawl Marina and therefore could be potentially putting themselves into the path of boats that are coming in and out of the marina. We cannot emphasise enough how dangerous this is.’