Coast Guard warning: Don't take supermarket beach inflatables to the sea
Irish Coast Guard staff have issued an urgent warning over the use of €1.49 inflatables which could result in a loss of life at sea.
It follows three incidents where adults who bought supermarket dinghies and had to be rescued off the Co Donegal coast.
Officers fear children using the inflatables could take to water in the good weather.
One item purchased by Coast Guard staff boasted it could be used in a swimming pool and at the beach.
“These should never be used at sea or on open water,” said Dara O’Malley-Daly, Station Manager at Malin Head Coast Guard.
“There is a concern that people will believe these are ok to use and they just aren’t. They may look good when people see the packaging or in a supermarket advert but they are potentially deadly.
“We want people to go to the beach and enjoy the weather but we want them to go home again afterwards.
“We’ve already dealt with a number of incidents this year in relation to inflatables being taken out to sea.
“Thankfully all those on board were rescued but the consequences could have been fatal.”
Killybegs Coast Guard was involved in the rescues of people in dinghies.
“In one case the inflatable had drifted two miles out to sea and neither of its occupants had a life jacket,” said Mr O’Malley Daly.
“We would urge people not to use these inflatables at all and anyone planning to head out to sea should always carry a VHF radio, mobile phone and wear a life jacket.
“Thankfully these people were spotted by fishermen and they were rescued and we would urge people that if they see something at sea which doesn’t look right, they should report it right away."
Coast Guard officials have also expressed concern at the use of home-made craft after rescuing a man in a “kayak” off Ballycotton, Co Cork.
The dilapidated vessel caused alarm to staff on the south coast.
“People who go out in such vessels pose a risk to their life and to the lives of rescuers,” said a Ballycotton Lifeboat spokesman.
Staff and volunteers from the Coast Guard and the RNLI also began a new scheme yesterday handing out identification arm bands to children using beaches across the country.
Mr O’Malley-Daly explained these were used to identify children who get lost on crowded beaches.
It follows incidents at Rossnowlagh in Co Donegal last summer as thousands of people in cars all tried to leave the beach at the same time as the tide came in.
A number of children became separated from parents who feared they were caught out at sea.
A recue helicopter had to be scrambled during the search.