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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

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Lifeboat call-outs triple in space of three months

BARROW lifeboat crews saw emergency call-outs nearly triple in the last three months.

BUSY: The lifeboat Grace Dixon arriving home to Barrow Lifeboat Station, Roa Island, after another call-out JOE RILEY REF: 0463657

And the cost of launching the rescue boats during June, July and August could add up to £72,800.

Barrow Lifeboat spokesman, John Falvey said each time the all-weather boat went out it cost £5,600, plus £2,200 for the inshore rescue boat.

Mr Falvey said the increase could be down to more people having so-called staycations in the UK rather than pay for a costly trip abroad, and using the coast and seas for leisure activities.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) crews, based on Roa Island, were the busiest station in Cumbria during June, July and August, with 13 call-outs compared to five during the same period last year.

Whitehaven had six calls compared to four last year, St Bees had four during the same three-month period in 2008 and nine this year.

In Silloth they attended four emergencies, compared to three last year.

Mr Falvey believes the only trend which could have caused the increase was people holidaying in the area rather than going abroad and using the coast and seas.

He said it was important for people to make sure they were fully prepared before setting off in a boat because that could slash the number of times they are called out.

Mr Falvey said: “The vast majority of our work is people who are using the coats and sea for leisure purposes.

“This year 47 per cent of our call-outs came from leisure type boats rather than commercial vessels. We find that incidents do tend to come in clusters and last year we had to rescue three to four people off Foulney Island when the causeway became blocked completely and they couldn’t get off. This coincided with the high spring tides.”

He said it was very important for anyone heading out to sea to make sure they were properly prepared.

Mr Falvey said: “Our advice is if you do use the sea tell someone when and where you are going and when you expect to be back. Then if you don’t return they can raise the alarm. Make sure you have a VHF radio and don’t rely on mobile phones because reception can be very unreliable at sea also have flares on board.

“Another major thing is to wear a life jacket. It’s not a fashion statement and don’t just take it make sure you wear it because it could prevent you from drowning if the boat suddenly capsized.

“Check the engine, fuel, the tide and the weather and if you’re inexperienced and the weather is bad don’t go.

“Bad weather on land may not be much of a problem but out at sea it can become a different story. All you need is for the petrol to run out, the tide to turn and you could be in real danger.

“We recently rescued three blokes who had no phone, no VHF and no life jackets. Then we had another case where six people were in a little fast fishing boat which capsized 150 yards off Foulney Island. The majority got ashore but two were left clutching the hull. If they had been on the other side of the island they would have been swept away.”

A RNLI spokesman confirmed that holidaymakers have been flocking to British coastlines in droves, and rescue operators have had their hands full with keeping people safe.

This had led to lifeboats in Scotland and the north of England facing their busiest summer since 2003.

The north of England saw a total of 620 rescue launches during between June and August. The area covers Silloth, West Kirby on to Berwick and on to Skegness.

The year 2003 saw only 12 more launches, with a total of 632. Around 522 incidents were recorded in 2008, 18 per cent lower than the summer of 2009. The life-saving service costs £378,000 a day to run.

As a charity, the RNLI relies totally on the support and generosity of the public to fund its lifeboat service. It costs £1,200 per year to train a crew member.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the charity can log on to www.rnli.org.uk or call 0800 543210.

The RNLI offers free all-year-round safety advice for sea users and beach visitors at www.rnli.org.uk

Have your say

It's important to have the lifeboat and thanks to the generosity of the general public it keeps it going. I agree that there is possibly alot more people having boating trips instead of holidays abroad, but they must follow the safety rules and make sure that they do have the most inportant necessities with them such as life jackets, VHF radio and flares as Mr Falvey stipulates in the article about the RNLI. It's very important to think out your trip and follow the right procedures, because nature has a tendency of throwing things at us when we least expect it. It's great that more people are coming to visit the area, but safety has to come first. It's always advisable to have emergency numbers ready before you set sail and as mobile phones don't always get a signal, flares are a very good idea. The sea has a mind of it's own and you must respect it. Look after yourselves and stay safe and don't be stupid and just have a good time adheed the safety instructions and it can make everyone's life alot easier.

Posted by Lori Robinson on 25 September 2009 at 17:36

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