Safety plea to swimmers after major rescue operation near Gosport

The search and rescue helicopter involved in rescuing five people at Stokes Bay. Picture: Hill Head Coastguard
The search and rescue helicopter involved in rescuing five people at Stokes Bay. Picture: Hill Head Coastguard
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A LIFE-SAVING charity has echoed safety calls to summer sun-seekers after five people were almost swept out to sea while swimming.

The RNLI is urging swimmers to be cautious when venturing into the sea.

It comes after four children and a man had to be rescued in the Solent after they got into difficulty.

An RNLI spokesman said: ‘It’s a common misconception that during the summer months, particularly on warm days, the sea around the UK coast is warm and safe for swimming.

‘However, cold water shock can be triggered in water temperatures lower than 15 degrees Celsius and the average temperature of UK and Irish waters is 12 degrees Celsius.

‘So even in the summer the water temperature can be cold enough to cause cold water shock, which can steal the air from your lungs and leave you helpless in seconds.’

As previously reported, the five swimmers sparked a major emergency after getting into difficulty on Tuesday evening.

The group had moored a yacht half a mile from Stokes Bay in Gosport.

But when three of the girls, aged between 10 and 13, jumped in and swam they quickly got into trouble.

As the girls started to drift from the vessel at Gilkicker, another young girl jumped in.

James Baggott, from Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service, said this girl was also caught in the tide.

When a man with the group jumped in to help he too got into trouble. Another adult called the coastguard at 6pm.

The helicopter, launched from Lee-on-the-Solent, police and ambulance were scrambled together with Gafirs. All five had drifted back to the shore and were on the beach.

This year the RNLI launched its national drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water.

It asks the public to fight their instincts should they find themselves in difficulty in the water and remember the core survival action of floating until the effects of cold water shock pass.

‘This means they have time to catch their breath before then trying to swim to safety or calling for help,’ a spokesman said.

‘We also advise people to be fully aware of local conditions and currents before swimming.

‘Rip currents can travel up to the same speed as an Olympic swimmer (4.5mph) and can pull even the strongest swimmers out to sea.’