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Whitstable RNLI concerns over the use of beach toys

Lifeboats News Release

Concern has been expressed over the use of inflatable beach toys after the Whitstable RNLI lifeboat was asked to respond to a report of a large inflatable toy that was being blown downwind about 300 yards off the beach near the Neptune public house on Thursday afternoon (June 25).

Library photo of the Whitstable Atlantic 85 lifeboat 'Lewisco' at sea.


Library photo of the Whitstable Atlantic 85 lifeboat 'Lewisco' at sea.

Whitstable Lifeboat Operations Manager Mike Judge said 'The lifeboat caught up with the toy which had capsized several times and the crew could find no one with it. With the possibility that there may be children in the water, the crew backtracked the route of the inflatable to search for anyone in difficulties. After a short period the owner was traced on the beach and confirmed that all persons were safe. The lifeboat was then able to return to station'.

'Whilst we do not want to spoil enjoyment of the seaside the RNLI have urged people not to use inflatables, blow-up toys and airbeds which are designed for pools, not the sea where they can easily be swept offshore'

'If you do use them at the beach, then be aware of wind and tide. When one gets caught in even a light breeze it can travel really quickly and 'out pace' even the strongest swimmer who may go after it'.

'Adults should supervise children by being in direct contact with the inflatable to prevent any drift seaward. If an inflatable does get blown beyond someone's depth, they should not pursue it. Urge the occupants to stay on the inflatable until help comes and call 999 for the coastguard. Keep watching so you can direct the lifeboat or lifeguards where to go'.

There is further advice on all sea safety issues on the RNLI websites.

Prior to this incident the lifeboat had launched at 1.40pm after the Coastguard received reports that a catamaran had capsized in Tankerton Bay and that the person on board was having difficulties. The lifeboat proceeded and on arrival at the scene found that the craft was now upright and that the occupant no longer required assistance.

Notes to editors

Whitstable RNLI Lifeboat Station was established in 1963 by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and is one of 237 lifeboat stations around the shores of the UK and Ireland. The volunteer crews provide a maritime search and rescue service for the Kent coast. They cover the area between the Kingsferry Bridge on the Swale, in the west, around the south-eastern side of Sheppey and along the coast through Whitstable and Herne Bay to Reculver in the east and outwards into the Thames Estuary.

The station is equipped with an Atlantic 85 lifeboat named Lewisco, purchased through a bequest of a Miss Lewis of London who passed away in 2006.

She is what is known as a rigid inflatable inshore lifeboat, the boat’s rigid hull being topped by an inflatable sponson. She carries a crew of four people.

RNLI media contacts

· Chris Davey, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, Whitstable Lifeboat Station.
07741 012004/ [email protected]

· Paul Dunt RNLI Press Officer London/southeast/east Tel: 0207 6207416 Mob: (07786) 668825 [email protected]

For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

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 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and 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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.