Margate and Ramsgate RNLI, along with the Coastguard helicopter, were called out to search for children blown out to sea on an inflatable dinghy today (July 29).
The call came in at 1.41pm at the request of UK Coastguard which had received a number of reports of the children 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 inshore lifeboat crew found the inflatable, but no children. The lifeboat then recovered the father of the children from the water who was totally distraught.
The Ramsgate crew was asked to search between Foreness Point and Palm Bay but during the search a message was received that the youngsters were safely ashore.
A passing pleasure craft indicated to the lifeboat that another pleasure craft further 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 childrens’ grandparents, had returned to shore unaided.
RNLI lifeguard Josh Jones, who was on duty at Botany Bay, paddled out to the first pleasure craft. He was taken on board the lifeboat and along with the family returned to Botany Bay. The family were taken to the lifeguard hut, where Senior lifeguard Ellie Hopper treated them whilst awaiting the ambulance’s arrival.
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 are adequately tethered to something ashore or better still only use them in enclosed tidal pools. We also urge parents and others not to attempt rescue themselves in these situations but dial 999 and ask for coastguard.”
A HM Coastguard Margate spokesperson added: “Thankfully this was a good outcome, We cannot stress enough how dangerous inflatables can be on the beach. Please if you are going to use them have them tethered to the shore so they do not blow away! All units were then clear to return to station.”