In an emergency call 999 and ask for the Coastguard Whitstable@rnli.org.uk

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.

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.