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Inflatables safety message after spate of incidents for Barmouth RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

No fewer than 15 people on six dinghies, two kayaks and a lilo were assisted by Barmouth inshore lifeboat in a single day.

The busy day saw a series of shouts for the volunteer lifeboat crew to people on the inflatables who has got into difficulty, mostly due to the offshore wind.

The spate of incidents has led to Barmouth Coxswain issuing safety advice for people visiting the beach this summer.

It was on Tuesday (19 July) and Barmouth RNLI's inshore lifeboat crew were paged at 12.15pm and launched at 12.21pm to a dinghy opposite Barmouth Primary School approximately three-quarters of a mile out.

The male occupant was outside the boat trying to propel the dinghy with his legs while his girlfriend tried to row back to shore but the easterly force 1-2, guesting force 3-4 winds made sure they weren’t getting back to shore without help.

When the lifeboat arrived on scene at 12.25pm the casualties had reported that they had fallen asleep.

Before the lifeboat crew had returned them to shore the coastguard alerted them to another dinghy slightly south and again in difficulty. After returning the first couple to shore the lifeboat soon recovered the second dinghy before another call came in from the coastguard again another couple in difficulty opposite boathouse unable to get back to shore.

The lifeboat finally returned to station after doing a coastal sweep advising all persons in the water with inflatables of the dangers.

Although not recorded as another formal shout the lifeboat picked up another dinghy with three persons on board towards the north end of the promenade.

The lifeboat finally returned to station at 1.18pm ready for service at 1.35pm but just 10 minutes later before the crew had left they were requested to re-launch to another dinghy 100m offshore northwest of the boathouse, with two people on board.

By now the wind had increased to force 3. Again before the casualties were brought ashore the lifeboat was  tasked to Fairbourne with reports of another dinghy in trouble with another three people on board, although they turned out not to be in trouble.

The lifeboat again returned to station at 2.29pm and was ready for service at 2.45pm. Then at 3pm the volunteer crew administered first aid at boathouse to a man who had been unlucky to find a weaver fish with his foot and was in agony. He was treated with hot water for his foot.

Then the pagers sounded again at 3.43pm and the inshore lifeboat launched two minutes later, again to Fairbourne but this time tasked to two inflatable kayaks. One of the casualties had swam back to shore but the other casualty, a male, who had recently had knee surgery, was extremely grateful to be rescued  by the volunteer lifeboat crew.

Barmouth RNLI Coxswain Pete Davies said: 'This was an exceptionally busy day for our inshore lifeboat voluteers who rescued or assisted no fewer than 15 people, all of whom had got into difficulty using inflatables.

'Blow-up toys and airbeds are designed for pools, not the sea where they can easily be swept out. If you do use them at the beach, then ensure children are closely supervised, keep near the shore, only use them between the red and yellow flags, always follow the lifeguard’s advice, do not take them out in big waves and never use them when orange windsock is flying, as this indicates offshore winds which will blow inflatables further out to sea.'

Then on Wednesday (20 July) the lifeboat crew were paged at 11.52am and tasked to another dinghy at the north end of the promenade, with reports of one person on board in trouble. This turned out to be false alarm as the occupant was fishing so the lifeboat returned to station at 12.30pm and was ready for service at 12.40pm.

Media contacts:

For more information please contact Chris Cousens, RNLI Press Officer Wales, on 07748 265496 / Chris_Cousens@rnli.org.uk.

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland