RNLI’s ‘manic’ weekend - but charging is not the answer

PUBLISHED: 13:31 01 June 2012 | UPDATED: 13:39 01 June 2012

RNLI

RNLI

Archant

COASTGUARD and lifeboat volunteers rescued several people stranded out to sea and stuck in the mud this weekend – but charging people to be rescued is not the answer, according to the RNLI.

The coastguard told the Mercury on Saturday that it was ‘manic’ as it sought to deal with a number of incidents where people found themselves in danger.

A teenage boy was rescued from a rubber dinghy by his father in the Bristol Channel, as the coastguard arrived, in one of a number of serious emergency incidents on Saturday.

The 15-year-old, from Kidderminster, who was rescued after floating away from Berrow beach, should act as a warning according to Burnham lifeboat volunteers.

A spokesman said: “The seaside is not a suitable place for small rubber boats, and as we have seen, a stiff off-shore breeze can have potentially very serious results. They had a lucky escape.”

Other incidents on Saturday included a woman falling from an Uphill jetty in the early hours, several mud rescues and two windsurfers being helped back to shore after drifting too far from land.

The sharp rise in incidents over the glorious weekend has again led to questions over whether there are sufficient warnings of the potential danger and what should be done to combat those who ignore them.

Glynn Hayes, who is a volunteer for the RNLI, said he did not support calls to charge those who need rescuing.

He said: “Currently the RNLI isn’t keen on the idea of charging when someone gets in trouble. We want people to call straight away as it is much easier to rescue them immediately, before it is too late.”

Mr Hayes said the Kidderminster youngster’s lucky escape highlighted visitors’ inability to appreciate the perilous nature of Somerset’s beaches. He said: “There’s always a problem when there is a hot day because people outside of Weston come here – as we want them to – but fail to understand the dangers.

“As a general rule, people from Weston know the risk of the mud and going out to sea on unsuitable craft.”

He added that the excuse of ignorance was no longer valid following the installation of extra warning signs in recent years.

He said: “A lot of work was done by the council, coastguard and the RNLI so there is currently no excuse that people don’t know [the risks]. They just don’t read the signs.”

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