LIFEBOAT crews have called on people to stay safe in the sea after a record summer of call-outs.
Shocking figures released today by the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) show emergency calls have risen sharply from 12 months ago - despite a string of warnings about the dangers of the tides around the Fylde coast.
David Warburton, a member of Blackpool RNLI for 19 years, said: “The weather hasn’t been great this summer and so the number of call-outs nationally has been down - but in Blackpool we’ve bucked the trend.
“People really need to take care. It’s not a case of us being the fun police - we want people to enjoy themselves. But this can be a dangerous coastline and we need people to take sensible precautions.”
The RNLI’s figures show Blackpool was the third busiest lifeboat station in the north of England during the summer.
Twenty-eight rescues were carried out, up six from last year. There were another 18 rescues in Lytham and St Annes and 12 in Fleetwood.
But those figures do not include the many other call-outs the RNLI received.
On one manic Saturday in June alone, coastguards were called to 26 separate incidents.
Coun Henry Mitchell, former chairman of Licensing and Public Protection Committee, believes more education is needed.
He said: “The RNLI do a brilliant job but it doesn’t matter how many coastguards you have - there will still be problems.
“We need to get into schools and educate youngsters about the dangers.
“It is like smoking. You can forget targeting adults, they are past learning. But we can still get to young people and warn them how dangerous the sea in this area is.”
Twenty two people have lost their lives in the sea off Blackpool over the last 27 years. Thirteen of those deaths have been close to Gynn Square.
They include three police officers who were swept to their deaths in January 1983.
Two teenagers also died in 2005 at the spot when they entered the water trying to rescue a dog, and a holidaymaker died in March last year when he went swimming in the same area.
In March, tragedy struck when 17-year-old David Sagar died after falling off a sea wall. That prompted The Gazette to launch its Think Sea Safety campaign.
David’s mum, Ann-Marie, from North Shore, who donated the proceeds of a charity walk to the RNLI, said: “They do a wonderful job and they did their best to save my son.
“Unfortunately, I still think more could be done to prevent people getting in the sea. People should be taught how to use life rings properly.”