CALLS have been made for restrictions on the use of inflatable devices at sea following a string of incidents in Cork and across the globe that have put lives at risk.
Last month, two men were treated for hypothermia after they were rescued from an inflatable dinghy two kilometres off the Cork coast near Crosshaven.
On Sunday, a father and his nine-year-old son were rescued from the sea near Fountainstown after the inflatable device the child was using dragged him out to sea.
In recent days, a small child was swept out to sea on a unicorn-shaped inflatable, leaving her hundreds of metres off the coast of the Greek town of Antirio. She was rescued by the crew of a passing ferry. Paddy Quinlan, a member of Crosshaven RNLI and managing director of Funkytown Adventure Centre, was involved in the rescue on Sunday evening.
Speaking to The Echo, he said that the dangers of inflatables must be realised before someone loses their life.
“It’s at a tipping point,” he warned.
“People need to wake up to the dangers of this before there is a fatality. There have been a few very close calls lately. The next story might not have such a rosy end to it.”
Paddy explained that lifeguards and lifeboat crew members in Crosshaven are hoping to highlight the need for regulation of inflatables to prevent such incidents in future.
“Everybody thinks these things are fine and that they can control them but that’s not the case. Most of the winds are offshore and inflatables sit above the water so it’s like a sail catching the wind,” he added.
“There’s very little chance of rowing back against the wind once it catches you and takes you out there.
“Even if you were the fittest man on the planet, you’d have no chance of paddling back.”
A statement made on the Cork County Council Beach Lifeguard Facebook Page in recent days said members often refer to inflatable devices as “floating killers”.
“These include look-alike dinghies, canoes, kayaks, Lilo’s, rings, sharks, seals, and other assorted fish and cetaceans.
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