'IF you see anyone in danger or difficulty at the beach please dial 999 and ask for the Coastguards. Every second counts and you could save a life.'

That is the message from Burnham-on-Sea Coastguard who are urging people to report incidents through the correct channels after a spate of beach incidents which have been incorrectly reported.

In a post on Facebook on Tuesday (August 11) the Coastguard said they have received several reports of people in difficulty along beaches in the Burnham area from members of the public who have been unsure of who to call or have taken a photo of the incident and sent it to a friend.

The post said: "We can't respond to these incidents as they have not been reported via the correct channels.

"Facebook pages, sending pictures to team members or posting on social media are not ways of reporting someone in danger and ultimately could cost someone their life as there is a delay in any response."

In a bid to help members of the public report incidents on the beach correctly the Coastguard has issued advice to beach-goers.

"You are out enjoying the beach and see someone has got into difficulty or danger in the mud, in the water or on the cliffs nearby," the Coastguard said.

"First thing you need to do is dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard. You will be put through to the Coastguard Operations Centre who will ask you a series of questions.

"While doing so they will be tasking the right assets to attend the incident.

"The Coastguard team will be tasked and making our way to station where we will gather information and then bundle into the Coastguard truck and head to the scene of the emergency.

"Burnham Coastguard like all other teams are specialist in many different types of rescue such as mud rescue, cliff rescue, water rescue, search for missing persons, medical evacuations, ordnance, helicopter landing sites and much more.

"Mostly we work alone but when we need extra assets we have a wealth of teams available to us to call upon.

"If there is people stuck in the mud we quite often call upon the BARB Hovercraft team, they are able to transport our Mud Rescue Technicians across the mud quickly and easily saving us valuable time and effort and ensuring the casualty is quickly retrieved from their sticky situation by our mud techs.

"We also call upon them when we need a lot of people to saturate an area when searching for missing people."

The Coastguard, which is Government funded, also calls upon the lifeboats from Burnham RNLI to help people in the water or vessels which need assistance and help search for people along the side of Brean Down when the tide is in.

Volunteers also get assistance from Coastguard helicopters which provide 'an amazing variety of assistance from overhead view while searching to full medical assistance for casualties and evacuation to nearby hospitals.'

The Coastguard team is made up of 11 volunteers who are 'highly trained in every aspect of the Coastguard role' and are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to incidents.

The team of volunteers said incidents being reported correctly could save a life.

"Without you calling 999 and asking for the Coastguard none of this happens,"

"We can't take third-hand information as it is usually out of date by the time it reaches us.

"Please always remember if you see anyone in danger or difficulty or you have an emergency at the beach, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguards, every second counts and you could save a life."