PARENTS are being urged to stress to their children the dangers of tombstoning, the daredevil activity which continues to claim the lives of young people.

West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger says with the warm weather continuing and the summer holidays imminent children and young people need to be warned firmly of the risks of cooling off by jumping from height into rivers or the sea.

Since 2005 tombstoning has claimed the lives of 20 people, most of them young, while a further 60 have been left seriously injured.

In nearly every case injuries were sustained by jumping into too-shallow water or coming into contact with underwater objects.

Conservative Mr Liddell-Grainger said his constituency contained any number of locations where tombstoning could be carried out, from harbour walls to bridges.

“Unfortunately we have had two recorded fatalities in the past – one at Minehead harbour and one at Watchet harbour - that have left two families deeply scarred and grieving for young lives cut brutally short,” he said.

“But I really am appealing to parents to do whatever they can to dissuade their children from tombstoning so that no further lives are put at risk.”

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency describes the craze as “a high-risk, unregulated activity, undertaken by unsupervised individuals” and has repeatedly issued warnings to the public.

But the deaths continue, the latest a double fatality in Torbay earlier this month where two men were pulled from the sea apparently after jumping off a cliff.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said most local authorities had posted warnings at danger points, such as harbours.

“Unfortunately some people see these as a challenge and deliberately ignore them and jump, for the extra thrill it gives them,” he said.

“But it is no thrill for a family to learn that their child has been left paralysed or to be informed that a lifeboat has been launched to look for them because they have failed to surface.

“Every parent should be hammering home the message to their child only to swim where it’s safe."