After a spate of near-miss incidents over the weekend, HM Coastguard is renewing its call to the public: Leave the inflatables at home when heading for the coast.
The sunny conditions and strong tides have proven to be a dangerous mix for those on inflatables, leading to numerous distress situations that kept rescue teams on their toes.
Recent Rescues Highlight Risks
In the past week alone, Ardrossan Coastguard Rescue Team and Troon lifeboats have attended four incidents involving inflatables, including two incidents with inflatable paddling pools carrying multiple passengers.
Quick intervention from the teams averted disaster and brought all parties safely back to shore.
#WATCH @HMCoastguard @MCA_media has issued a reminder to beachgoers this weekend that inflatables are not for the coast. It follows multiple incidents across the country of people needing help after their inflatable was blown out to sea. pic.twitter.com/O05tXIBrdX— Emergency-Services.News (@ES_News_) June 11, 2023
In a particularly perilous event on Thursday, an inflatable paddling pool with three people aboard began taking on water and drifted far offshore.
In response, the helicopter team at Prestwick was called into action, winching the passengers to safety and delivering them to the awaiting rescue teams at Ardrossan and Ayr.
Inflatables vs The Sea: Statistics Speak
According to recent data from the HM Coastguard and RNLI, over the last 12 months, there have been 1,039 incidents involving inflatable toys.
This reflects a decrease of 10% from the previous two years, which saw 1,143 such incidents.
Shockingly, 83% of these emergencies were linked to the use of inflatables without a life jacket.
Despite the decline in incidents, these figures stress the considerable risks associated with the use of inflatables at sea.
Beach Safety Measures: Life Jackets Over Inflatables
Despite the perception of being harmless fun, inflatables are not designed for open water and can quickly become hazards.
They can easily be blown offshore or overturned due to waves, creating an alarming situation, particularly if a life jacket is not in use.
To ensure a safe beach experience, the Coastguard advises beachgoers to wear a life jacket when in or near the water and stay close to the shore.
Awareness of weather conditions and those around you in the water is crucial, as is the understanding that inflatables should not be used in rough seas.
Under no circumstances should alcohol or drugs be combined with any water activities.
In an emergency, bystanders are urged to dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.
In the interest of public safety, inflatables are best reserved for controlled environments like swimming pools, and beachgoers should instead rely on life jackets and wetsuits.
This switch can significantly reduce risks and ensure our coasts continue to be places of joy and recreation.
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