Beach-goers urged to stay safe this summer

FELIXSTOWE: Surf canoes are the latest craze to hit the waves at Felixstowe – but today owners were warned to make sure they stay safe at sea.

Coastguards and members of the Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Rescue Service are urging people who want to enjoy the sea to make sure they take basic safety precautions and avoid putting themselves in danger.

Beaches are set to be very busy over the next six weeks if the weather remains hot and sunny, and parents must make sure they keep an eye on their children on the beach and ensure they give good advice to older youngsters.

John Cresswell, chairman of the rescue service, said on a Sunday he counted 11 windsurfers, four kitesurfers and 29 canoes or kayaks, plus numerous inflatable toys, pleasure craft, jet-skis, swimmers and paddlers off Felixstowe’s shores.

“The craze at the moment seems to be surf canoes which are readily available and relatively cheap at about �300 to �500 depending on the type,” he said. “Although these surf canoes and sit-on kayaks are robust, very simple to use, basic sea safety principles still apply.

“Paddlers must not be complacent and I am alarmed to see that some of them do not even think they need the basic equipment of a wet-suit and some form of buoyancy aid. They probably think it can never happen to them.

“Last season we were tasked to a canoeist who was capsized by a wave and banged his head on his canoe, resulting in unconsciousness and hospital treatment. He was not wearing any safety gear and was lucky to survive.”

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He advised canoe and kayak users to wear a thin wet suit to protect them from knocks and keep them warm and to wear a life-jacket or carry a personal flotation aid.

Felixstowe Coastguard Jo Arlow said one of the biggest problems every summer was people being blown off shore in inflatable boats.

He said inflatable boats and toys could be great fun but should be tethered to an adult and never used in an offshore wind as they can easily be blown out to sea and overturn.

Children should be properly supervised, and people going to sea should check the weather and tide times.

n What do you think of these new surf canoes? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail evening