Busy weekend for RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews in Scotland
Scotland’s volunteer lifeboat crews saw a busy weekend of responding to pagers as the public took advantage of warmer weather and an opportunity to meet more friends outside.
RNLI volunteer crews across the country responded to a number of shouts that included reports of children drifting out to sea on inflatables, large pleasure craft breakdowns, vessels run aground and reports of people struggling in the water.
Although Scottish Government advice still requests people to ‘stay local’ (within five miles of their home) for leisure activities, the warmer weather and ability to meet more people outdoors will have encouraged more people to visit local beaches.
Largs RNLI volunteers launched their inshore lifeboat twice in 24 hours, including a shout to a child reported to be drifting out to sea on an inflatable flamingo. Troon volunteers were paged by the Coastguard four times over the weekend with both their inshore and all-weather lifeboats launching on multiple occasions only to be stood down on route to the scenes. Tighnabruaich, Dunbar and North Berwick also saw shouts to a number of incidents including a drifting, broken down, large pleasure cruiser and a kayaker in distress.
Speaking about the weekend’s shouts, Michael Avril, Water Safety Lead for the RNLI in Scotland said: “The shouts we saw this weekend are quite typical of a summer in Scotland, but we would ask the public to remember that this is still not a typical year. Whenever our lifeboat crews are paged they need to break social/physical distancing guidelines, putting themselves and their loved ones at risk. Following a shout, a lifeboat is cleaned and refuelled to be ready for the next service, due to COVID-19 extra cleaning must be undertaken, taking even more of the volunteer crews’ time. Therefore we would recommend that the public remember the following safety advice: Follow Scottish Government advice of remaining within five miles of your home, stay in familiar surroundings, don’t put yourself, your family and emergency services at risk by taking risks or assuming it ‘won’t happen to you’.
“The shouts from this weekend also highlight some important safety advice. Each year we are paged to reports of inflatables drifting out to sea, sometimes with children aboard. Please do not take inflatables to the beach. Inflatables are designed for use in pools and should not be used in the sea where tides and offshore winds can quickly carry you out to sea and into danger. We’d also remind anybody starting to think about taking their yacht or boat out after all these weeks of inactivity to get it thoroughly checked over, preferably by a professional engineer or mechanic. Finally, if you do find yourself in danger, or think you see somebody else in danger, please do not hesitate to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard, the sooner we can launch to help the better.
“Tragically, we also saw two fatal incidents at inland water ways this weekend. While these are not areas covered by our crews, we would like to pass our condolences to the families of the young men who lost their lives.”
The weekend also saw RNLI Lifeguards return to Scotland’s beaches with patrols on St Andrew’s East, Aberdour Silver Sands and Coldingham Bay. This weekend is likely to see those patrols extended to Elie and Burntisland beaches as well.
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Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.