People are being warned against posing for “storm selfies” which could put their lives in danger.

As Storm Barney hits the UK, with gusts of up to 80mph forecast for exposed coastal areas, the public is being urged not to try to take photographs of themselves along promenades and breakwaters as they are battered by waves.

Barney, the second storm powerful enough to be given a name by the Met Office and Met Eireann, will bring gale or severe gale force westerly winds on Tuesday afternoon and evening – generating large waves around exposed coasts in south-west England and the English Channel.

Sea selfie
(Rick Findler/PA)

While some localised spray and waves coming over sea defences is possible, the overall coastal flood risk is very low, the Environment Agency said.

But the agency and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) are warning people not to put themselves at risk to capture dramatic moments along the coastline, and to avoid driving along promenades with spray or through flood water.

Gale force winds whip the North Sea up at Seaham Harbour
(Owen Humphreys/PA)

Neil Davies, duty flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said: “The power of Mother Nature is a fascination to us all – and taking storm selfies may seem exhilarating – but over the last few years we’ve had an increasing number of people putting themselves and family members at severe risk along coastal paths and promenades.

“Floods destroy so take care and be prepared. Find out if you are at risk and sign up for early flood warnings. Stay safe and act now to be better prepared for flood to reduce the impact it could have on your family, your home and your business.”

Sea selfie
(Andrew Matthews/PA)

David Walker, leisure safety manager at RoSPA, said: “We understand the temptation to view powerful tides and weather conditions, however, if you get caught up or swept out to sea in these events your life will be at risk very quickly and our rescue services will also be at great risk.

“Listen to the advice of the coastguard and the police about safe places to be. Floods are devastating so do not be afraid to seek medical help or support.”

Last year, coastal flooding led to people taking risks to capture images of the sea – while videos of people getting swept along roads by waves became internet hits, the two organisations said.