The Coastguard has urged beachgoers to not use inflatables in the ocean after a man was rescued hundreds of metres from the shore on a blow-up unicorn.
Rescue teams rushed out to sea off the coast of Hayling Island in Hampshire after the man got into difficulty while cooling off from the sweltering temperatures and was swept 400 metres from land.
The man drifted into the path of ferries at the entrance of Portsmouth Harbour, putting his life at risk while he waited to be rescued.
The Hayling Coastguard Rescue Team, Portsmouth and Hayling RNLI lifeboats and a coastguard rescue helicopter from Lee-on-Solent were all brought in to help the man to safety.
The incident was just one of 15 separate rescues involving inflatable on Tuesday evening across the south coast.
Others involved an inflatable flamingo and dinghy.
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The Coastguard has now warned people to take extra care when cooling off in the sea during the heatwave – and to leave the inflatables on the shore.
HM Coastguard duty controller Piers Stanbury said: ‘We’ve had to waste RNLI and Coastguard volunteers’ time to ensure that abandoned inflatables did not have anyone at risk associated with them.
‘We can’t stress enough that these inflatables are not suitable for use in the sea. Tide conditions, the wind, any changes in the weather can just take them out beyond safe depths.
‘Please, don’t use them, don’t take them to the seaside. Inflatables really should only be used in swimming pools, not at the coast where they can quickly go from being fun to being potentially deadly.’