People are being urged to “leave the inflatable toys at home” after seven people were rescued over a span of three days off the coast of Ayrshire.
The most recent of these incidents occurred on Thursday, when Ardrossan Coastguard Rescue Team and RNLI Troon were alerted to reports of people being blown offshore near Irvine.
At around 8.30pm on June 8, a multi-agency response was activated when three people on a large inflatable mattress drifted out into the sea.
Ayr Coastguard Rescue Team, the Troon Lifeboat and Coastguard Helicopter Rescue 199 were dispatched to help rescue the group.
The agencies kept in touch with the three people over the phone, who eventually informed them that the inflatable was taking on water, with the situation “rapidly deteriorating”.
The group were airlifted instead of waiting for the lifeboat, and safely touched down at Irvine beach.
Prior to this, two people were blown out to sea on an inflatable near Ardrossan South Beach on Tuesday, June 6.
A rescue craft from a nearby motor vessel was sent out, alongside Coastguard and RBLI teams, who were able to pick up the stranded pair and safely bring them to Ardrossan harbour.
And on Wednesday, a multi-agency response was launched to two separate incidents.
In the first, two paddleboarders had blown offshore near Irvine beach, followed by two people on an inflatable pool toy who were blown out to sea off Ardrossan.
The Ardrossan Coastguard Rescue Team has warned people to keep inflatable pool toys where they belong – in the pool.
A spokesperson said: “Recent days have once again highlighted the dangers of inflatables at the coast.
“These inflatable pool toys are designed for use in the swimming pool and are not intended for use in the sea.
“Fortunately all of this week’s incidents have had successful outcomes due to the swift actions of the public by dialling 999 and asking for the Coastguard, and the quick response from attending emergency services and the support provided by the wider maritime community.
“We would urge everyone to leave the inflatable toys at home if you’re intending on visiting the coast and ask anyone undertaking any sort of water sport activity to always check the weather forecast and wind direction before setting off.
“It’s not worth taking the risk if it’s an offshore wind. Please also make sure you have a lifejacket or floatation aid suitable for your activity and have a means of calling for help.
“If you get into difficulty along the coast or at sea or you think someone else is in trouble, don’t hesitate – always dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”