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Christmas warning of sea dangers

25 December 08 11:02 GMT

Lifeboat crews in the North of England are hoping to avoid a repeat of last year's festive season, which was one of the busiest they have experienced.

Between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day there were 20 launches in the RNLI's North Division, almost double the number of the past two years.

People are advised to take care if trying out new wet suits or surfboards.

They are also reminded anyone consuming alcohol to excess can severely endanger themselves and others on the sea.

There are 1,500 RNLI crew members and shore helpers in the North Division which stretches from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Skegness on the east coast and Silloth in Cumbria to West Kirby on the west coast.

Rising temperatures

In previous years volunteers have been called away from Christmas dinners or New Year's Eve parties by emergencies.

Tony Clare, RNLI sea safety manager in the north of England, said that a combination of better protective clothing and equipment together with rising temperatures was probably responsible for the increase in Christmas lifeboat "shouts".

"Some people want to make the most of the holiday by taking out their boat, going for a brisk walk along the beach or maybe trying out a new wet suit or surfboard they got for Christmas," he said.

"We don't want to stop anyone having fun but we also want to remind everyone that alcohol and salt water don't mix. "

He added that anyone planning to be at or by the sea should follow five essential tips to keep themselves and their families safe, and to help reduce the number of rescues.

These are: wear a lifejacket; check the boat's engine and fuel; tell others where they are going; carry some means of calling for help and check the weather and tides.

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