Blackpool and Fleetwood lifeboats plagued by false alarms as litterbugs ditch inflatables, towels and flip-flops on Fylde coast beaches
Abandoned beach inflatables, towels and footwear led local life-savers on a wild goose chase as they searched for possible people in trouble in the water.
Fleetwood and Blackpool RNLI volunteers, and coastguards from Fleetwood and Lytham, were called to false alarms yesterday as it was feared the owners of the dumped items were stranded or struggling at sea.
A HM Coastguard Fleetwood spokesman said: "We found towels, footwear and food items in a bag, raising concerns that there were still people out there on King Scar.
"RNLI Fleetwood ILB had been tasked to provide support for us and undertook a search of the north side while NCI Fleetwood searched with binoculars from their tower. Once the banks had been covered, we were as confident as possible that the items were abandoned and that no-one was stranded."
A HM Coastguard Lytham spokesman said: "We requested the assistance from RNLI Blackpool to search the water, after a search of the water no persons were in difficulties, however, the crew had collected at good amount of inflatables and balls from the water.
"Please take your toys and rubbish home with you, the RNLI crew are there to save lives, not clean up everyone's rubbish."
As well as the two false alarms, crews also attended multiple other incidents throughout yesterday.
HM Coastguard Lytham was at 1.40pm to reports of two missing children on St Annes beach. Another missing child was reported in the same area at 4.20pm. All three children were found safe.
Meanwhile, HM Coastguard Fleetwood attended numerous people cut off by the tide , including eight people on Anchorsholme beach and two people and a dog in Fleetwood.
Chris Cousens, RNLI water safety lead for the North West, said that people should not hesitate to call 999 if they suspect someone might be in trouble in the water, even if they are not 100 per cent sure.
He said: "There was a large number of what turned out to be false alarms at the weekend regarding inflatables. It can be difficult to determine, if you see something far away, if someone is in an emergency situation or not, and it's always better to call. If people started thinking twice about that, the consequences of not doing so, if there was an emergency, would be far worse than what would happen if we did go and it turned out to be a false alarm.
"Our simple message is - don't use inflatable toys at the coast. They are not intended for sea use and they can potentially be quite dangerous pieces of equipment, especially in off-shore winds.
"Inflatable toys are better kept to controlled environments like swimming pools.
"The best advice that we can give is just don't use them at the coast. However, we know that many people do and will continue to use them. Then we would try to encourage people to do so on a life-guarded beach if possible. Make sure the person on the inflatable is under very close supervision of an adult. Don't use them in off-shore winds, and ideally don't use them at all."
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