News story

Sand hole digging dangers

Why digging deep holes in the sand can be dangerous

Sand hole exercise

Sand hole collapses are rare but can be lethal if you become trapped in one. There’s nothing wrong with digging holes at the beach and filling them with water for your kids to play in. But if you dig a hole so deep that your head is barely poking out or burrow into a sand dune then you could be putting your life at risk. If it’s taken you three hours to dig your hole - that’s how long it might take someone to dig you out.

These deeper types of holes are highly unstable. The wet harder sand that you dig out will dry out in the sun making it loose and the deeper you dig the more danger there is of the hole collapsing inwards and potentially trapping you inside.

The best way to rescue someone is to create a circle of people digging with their hands, then another outer circle will do the same while also removing the sand from the first circle, more circles of people digging will be added as they become available.This will then create a wider shallow hole with no risk of any further collapse of sand.

A perfect example of this was demonstrated recently at a sand hole training exercise with 30 people from Burnham Coastguard Rescue Team, BARB Search & Rescue - Burnham-on-Sea hovercraft, RNLI lifeguards, RNLI lifeboats at Burnham-on-Sea, beach wardens and the fire and rescue service using a constant digging action racing against time to rescue a pre-buried casualty.

We want you to enjoy yourselves at the beach - that’s what it’s there for - just take extra care when digging large holes that could trap you if they collapse. Let’s share this and tell as many people as we can in time for the school holidays. Stay safe folks and remember to call 999 and ask for the coastguard if you see someone in difficulty.

Grateful thanks to for letting us share this great footage!

Published 10 July 2017