Coastguard call outs hit four-year high after busy day around the UK

Lowestoft beach on July 31 as the temperatures soared. Picture: Mick Howes

Lowestoft beach on July 31 as the temperatures soared. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

Packed beaches and coastlines kept national coastguard rescue teams “very busy” as they responded to a record number of incidents.

Call the coastguard in an emergency. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Call the coastguard in an emergency. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

According to the search and rescue agency, it responded to 340 incidents across the UK on Saturday - which is the highest number of call-outs in a single day for more than four years.

They were called to 186 emergency 999 calls for a “wide range of incidents”, which included people being cut off by the tide on beaches and children swept out to sea on inflatables.

HM Coastguard Lowestoft. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

HM Coastguard Lowestoft. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

One such incident saw Hemsby lifeboat called out on Saturday afternoon following reports of an inflatable being blown out to sea between Hemsby and Winterton , with “children clinging onto it”.

The independent lifeboat crew recovered a child’s white Unicorn inflatable and as they searched the scene they were informed by the coastguard that the child “was safe and well with her father on the beach”.

With people flocking to the coast and beaches, coastguard rescue teams dealt with 221 incidents as 146 people were rescued and 371 people were assisted.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and independent lifeboats were also called out 155 times.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said the call-outs for coastguard rescue teams, coastguard aircraft and lifeboats are all logged individually before the total number is calculated.

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This is because some rescue services respond to the same incident.

According to the search and rescue agency, Saturday’s incident count represents “a significant 145 per cent increase” in comparison to the average amount of call-outs that were recorded throughout August last year.

The agency said that this also surpassed the previous busiest day of the past few years – which was on Friday, July 31 – when 329 incidents were co-ordinated.

HM Coastguard deputy head of coastal operations Richard Hackwell said: “We have seen a big rise in incident numbers this weekend as more people visit coastal areas and head to the beach.

“We understand that people want to have fun at the coast and enjoy the heatwave but we urge everyone to respect the sea and take responsibility in helping to ensure the safety of themselves, friends and family.

“We’re heading into a period of more good weather so we want to remind you to check and double check tide times as even the most experienced swimmer or keen watersports enthusiast can get caught out by currents and tides.

“Plan your day out, always exercise caution and make sure you have a way of contacting us if you get into trouble.”

He added: “As our latest statistics show, we’ll always respond when someone calls 999 and asks for the Coastguard but help us to help you by not making choices which could put yourself and others at risk.

“Every time our frontline teams respond – as they always do and always will – please don’t forget that they’re also put at risk too.”

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