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‘Leave inflatables for the pool’ - RNLI warning after incidents on coast

PUBLISHED: 15:53 11 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:13 11 August 2020

A busy south Lowestoft beach as thousands flocked to the east coast recently. Picture: Mick Howes

A busy south Lowestoft beach as thousands flocked to the east coast recently. Picture: Mick Howes

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Lifesavers have urged beach users and people visiting the coast not to use inflatables.

Liam Fayle-Parr, of the RNLI. Picture: RNLILiam Fayle-Parr, of the RNLI. Picture: RNLI

The warning comes amid the “real danger” they pose at the beach as currents and offshore winds can quickly sweep people out to sea.

It follows the death of Danielle Chilvers, from Swaffham, who died at Waxham Sands trying to rescue her child who had got into difficulties on an inflatable canoe.

The RNLI and HM Coastguard launched a beach safety campaign earlier this year. Picture: RNLIThe RNLI and HM Coastguard launched a beach safety campaign earlier this year. Picture: RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging the public not to use inflatables,”while the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has called on people to “Be Beach Safe and leave your inflatable friends for the pool.”

The RNLI said: “Inflatables, blow-up toys and airbeds are designed for pools, not the sea where they can easily be swept out.”

Hemsby Lifeboat responded after an inflatable was blown out to sea between Hemsby and Winterton. Photo: Hemsby LifeboatHemsby Lifeboat responded after an inflatable was blown out to sea between Hemsby and Winterton. Photo: Hemsby Lifeboat

Across the UK last year, the RNLI responded to 346 incidents involving inflatables.

Liam Fayle-Parr, of the RNLI Water Safety Team, said: “The RNLI dealt with nearly 350 incidents involving inflatables in 2019 alone across the UK.

HM Coastguard Lowestoft. PHOTO: Nick ButcherHM Coastguard Lowestoft. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

“Inflatables have always caused a problem.

“People need to be really aware that even the slightest offshore breeze can blow an inflatable out really quickly.

“The wind can change and it can happen so quick, a momentary distraction and a parent could turn around to see their child drifting out to sea.

“If that inflatable capsizes, deflates or if the child panics and jumps in to swim to shore, the outcome could be devastating.

“We at the RNLI don’t want people to use inflatables on the beach.

“They are very high risk on the coast.

“You don’t need inflatables to have fun at the beach.

“The RNLI message is we urge you not to use inflatables.”

MORE: Tributes to ‘excellent young man’ who drowned at country park

Mr Fayle-Parr started lifeguarding for the RNLI in 2011 and worked for the lifeguard service until 2019 on beaches between Hemsby and Southwold.

Earlier this year he fronted the RNLI’s national Water Safety Wednesdays campaign – as web sessions for children were broadcast for six weeks from his kitchen on the outskirts of Lowestoft.

He said: “It’s not always the distance an inflatable gets blown that causes the problem.

“If a weak swimmer finds this out by jumping off an inflatable they could be in trouble if they are unable to make it back to shore.

“We’re really proud of our beaches, and want people to enjoy them, and the best way to do that is to stay safe.”

Call outs

Twice in less than a month Hemsby independent lifeboat was called out to reports of an inflatable being blown out to sea, with persons believed to be clinging to it.

At 2.41pm on Saturday, August 8 an inflatable was blown out to sea between Hemsby and Winterton, with the lifeboat crew recovering a child’s white Unicorn inflatable about 200m off Long beach.

As they searched for the child, they were informed by the coastguard that the youngster was “safe and well with her father on the beach.”

On July 18 they responded to reports of an inflatable being blown out to sea off Winterton with a person clinging to it.

The crew recovered the inflatable and after searching the area, it was confirmed that the person was safe and well on the shoreline.

A Hemsby lifeboat spokesman said: “We want everyone who visits our coastline to enjoy their downtime, but we want them to do it without putting themselves, their children or others at risk.

“With our local sea conditions, it is all too easy to be blown out to sea when playing with inflatables.”

Coastguard rescue officers from HM Coastguard Lowestoft were called out twice in quick succession on August 1.

They warned: “Please keep your inflatables for the pool.

“The currents and winds are often strong enough to get users of inflatables way out of depth.

“Please make your children aware of the dangers at the coast.”

Last month, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency urged people to “Be Beach Safe and leave your inflatable friends for the pool.”

They warned: “They might look like fun, but they pose a real danger at the beach as currents and offshore winds can sweep you out to sea in a blink of an eye.

“Don’t take risks at the coast, but in an emergency call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”


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