Unicorn nearly kills woman - a pink flamingo and swan were also involved
Fifteen people had to be rescued on a single day in the UK after their inflatables veered off course
They are the summer’s most-wanted holiday accessory, popping up everywhere from tropical islands to the great British seaside.But giant inflatable unicorns are proving less popular with coastguards after a woman was blown out to sea and had to be rescued from one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.She was one of 15 people rescued along the south coast by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in just one evening after their inflatables veered off course. A pink flamingo and a swan were also involved.Instagram is filled with thousands of #inflatableunicorn pictures from foreign climes, while the England football team were photographed racing them in the hotel pool ahead of their game against Panama.The flamingo is even more popular on social media, while retailers are also selling giant watermelon slices, lobsters, cacti, pineapples and ice lollies.
Retailers also reported a sales hike thanks to the UK hit reality show Love Island, where inflatables can be glimpsed in the villa’s swimming pool.But the UK coastguard agency has issued a warning about the toys, urging people not to take them into the sea.HM Coastguard duty controller Piers Stanbury said: “We’ve had people rescued from a number of beaches along Hampshire and Sussex coastline. Each one of them had been using an inflatable. Thankfully, everyone so far has been rescued and is safe.”“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 should only be used in swimming pools, not at the coast where they can quickly go from being fun to being potentially deadly.”
The 15 rescues took place on Monday. In the unicorn incident, a helicopter was scrambled when the woman drifted into the Solent, a major shipping lane used by passenger, freight and military vessels.Hillhead Coastguard Rescue Team, based between Portsmouth Harbour and the River Itchen, tweeted: “Tasked to a person blown over 400m from shore into one of the busiest waterways in the world on an inflatable unicorn.
“Luckily, a passing kayaker assisted until Gosport ILB [a patrol craft] recovered the casualty safely to shore.”
A team from Hayling Island Lifeboat Station, Hampshire, was called out to another unicorn, only to pass a flamingo on the way and then spot a person in the water who had drifted out to sea in a dinghy and was clinging to a buoy.Three lifeboats and a helicopter then set out to search the bay, fearing that someone had fallen from the flamingo, but they were stood down before sunset. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said rescue teams are wasting valuable hours checking abandoned inflatables.“Some of the inflatables were collected by our teams, some will have made their way over to France,” the agency said.
Where once holidaymakers were content with the humble lilo, the demands of social media call for ever more elaborate accessories.
At John Lewis department store, the hot weather has seen a rush of sales for deluxe inflatables in the shape of gold-winged unicorns, flamingoes, toucans, swans, peacocks and a tropical island complete with palm tree.The store’s top seller is the £65 ride-on unicorn, accounting for nearly one in four inflatables purchased, while sales of the lie-on watermelon have risen 172% in the past week. Lisa Rutherford, seasonal buyer at John Lewis, said: “Giant pool inflatables are hot property at the moment, and TV programmes are also influencing customer purchases.
“Since Love Island hit the UK’s screens in the last few weeks, we have seen sales soar.”
– © The Daily Telegraph