Child Swept Off Pier During High Tide in Petrifying Moment

When it comes to enjoying the seaside, it’s important to prioritize safety, especially for young children. Recently, a petrifying incident at Ilfracombe Harbour in Devon, England, serves as a stark reminder of the potential dangers lurking at piers during high tides. In this article, we will delve into the details of the incident, highlight the risks associated with such situations, and provide essential guidelines for ensuring child safety at the pier. Let’s explore how we can prevent similar incidents and create a secure environment for children to enjoy the coastal experience.

Unforeseen Danger: The Incident at Ilfracombe Harbour

On a Thursday evening, at approximately 7 PM, a group of children was enjoying their time on the pier at Ilfracombe Harbour. The picturesque scene quickly turned into a harrowing experience when a high tide unexpectedly knocked a young girl off her feet and sent her hurtling down the side of a wall. As her friends looked on in panic, the girl desperately clung to the metal barriers, fighting against the powerful force of the sea. Thankfully, quick-thinking bystanders swiftly intervened to rescue the child, averting a potential tragedy.

Understanding the Risks: High-Risk Activities and Tombstoning

The incident at Ilfracombe Harbour highlights the dangers associated with engaging in high-risk activities, such as tombstoning, in volatile conditions. Tombstoning refers to the act of jumping or diving off a high platform into water, often from cliffs or piers. While it may seem thrilling, this activity can lead to serious injuries or even fatalities. It is crucial for both children and adults to recognize the potential risks involved and act responsibly when near the sea.

The Importance of Education and Awareness

To ensure the safety of children at the pier, it is essential to educate both parents and youngsters about the potential dangers. Many accidents occur due to a lack of awareness or understanding of the risks involved. By providing information on the hazards of high tides and engaging in risky activities, we can empower individuals to make informed decisions and protect themselves and others.

Recognizing the Signs of Volatile Sea Conditions

One key aspect of preventing accidents is recognizing the signs of volatile sea conditions. Prior to the incident at Ilfracombe Harbour, all the youths had been knocked off their feet on the slipway by the surging waves. It is crucial to pay attention to the behavior of the sea, including wave patterns, the strength of currents, and any warnings issued by local authorities. Being aware of these indicators can help individuals assess the safety of the pier and make informed choices.

Guidelines for Child Safety at the Pier

To ensure the safety of children at the pier, it is important to follow some essential guidelines:

1. Supervision is Key

Children should never be left unattended at the pier. Adult supervision is crucial to prevent accidents and provide immediate assistance if an emergency arises. Keep a close eye on children, especially during high tides or when engaging in any water-related activities.

2. Stay Informed About Weather Conditions

Before heading to the pier, check the weather forecast and any related advisories. High tides and unpredictable sea conditions can pose significant risks. If adverse conditions are predicted, it is best to reschedule the visit to a safer time.

3. Educate Children about Sea Safety

Teach children about the potential dangers of the sea and the importance of respecting its power. Help them understand the risks associated with high tides, tombstoning, and other hazardous activities. Encourage open communication and ensure they know how to seek help if needed.

4. Observe Warning Signs and Notices

Pay close attention to any warning signs or notices posted at the pier. These are put in place to keep individuals informed about potential risks and guide them towards safer behaviors. Ignoring or disregarding these signs can have severe consequences.

5. Be Mindful of Slippery Surfaces

Piers often become slippery due to water splashing onto the surfaces. Take caution and ensure children wear appropriate footwear with good traction. Avoid running or engaging in activities that increase the risk of slipping and falling.


The incident at Ilfracombe Harbour serves as a sobering reminder of the potential dangers children face when playing near piers during high tides. By understanding the risks associated with high-risk activities and taking necessary precautions, we can create a safe environment for children to enjoy the coastal experience. Remember, education, awareness, supervision, and adherence to guidelines are key to ensuring child safety at the pier. Let’s work together to prevent such incidents and protect our loved ones.


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