This week, UK Coastguard received a number of reports of children being blown out to sea in an inflatable dinghy and calling for help. There was confusion concerning the numbers involved and the location which indicated anywhere between Palm Bay and Botany Bay to the east of Margate. There was also concern about a number of adults reported as attempting to reach them from the shore.
Margate’s RNLI inshore lifeboat was tasked, along with Ramsgate RNLI inshore lifeboat, the coastguard rescue helicopter from Lydd Airport and Margate Coastguard Rescue Team.
The inshore lifeboat from Margate quickly located an empty inflatable toy off Foreness but with no children on board. The lifeboat then recovered the father of the children from the water who was totally distraught.
A passing pleasure craft indicated to the lifeboat that another pleasure craft further to seaward had picked up two children from the water and father and children were reunited on board the lifeboat. It was established that the other two adults involved, the children’s’ grandparents, had returned to shore unaided.
An RNLI lifeguard from Botany Bay who paddled out to the first pleasure craft was taken on board the lifeboat and along with the survivors taken to Botany Bay. The coastguard had meanwhile called an ambulance and it is believed (not confirmed) that the children were taken to hospital as a precaution.
All search units then returned to station.
Nick Smith, Deputy Launching Authority, Margate RNLI said:
“With the holidays in full swing, we urge parents not to let children venture to sea in inflatable dinghies and inflatable toys. The effect of wind and tide can quickly sweep them offshore with the added danger of being difficult to spot from both land and sea. These so-called toys can be lethal, ensure they have been adequately tethered to something ashore or better still only use them in enclosed tidal pools. We also urge parents and others not to attempt to rescue themselves in these situations but dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”