Published: 09:55, 31 July 2021
| Updated: 10:00, 31 July 2021
A lifeguard paddled half-a-mile to save a man drifting in a toy dinghy in the sea off the Isle of Sheppey.
Both had to be rescued and taken back to the shore by the Whitstable RNLI lifeboat.
The RNLI have issued a safety reminder after westerly force 5 winds blew the man, in his 20s, and the inflatable dinghy out to sea.
The Whitstable inshore lifeboat was launched just after 5pm on Thursday afternoon following a request from Dover Coastguard.
An RNLI spokesman said: "We were initially told a paddle-boarder was waving for help off Leysdown and were asked to assist an RNLI beach lifeguard.
"We found the casualty, a male in his 20s, on board the lifeguard's rescue board after she had paddled out to assist him to safety from half-a-mile offshore and against the wind."
The spokesman added: "The casualty's paddle-board turned out to be an inflatable dinghy of the beach toy variety. Both the casualty and lifeguard were taken on board the lifeboat and wrapped in thermal blankets."
The crew recovered the dinghy and took the lifeguard and the man back to the lifeguard hut on Leysdown beach.
Lifeboat Helmsman Dave Parry warned: “We cannot emphasise enough the dangers of using inflatable toys on the sea. They are designed for use in pools not in open water and in an offshore wind can easily and quickly be carried out to sea.
“On this occasion the casualty said he had not realised the strength of the wind.
"We advise all beach-goers, and those venturing into and onto the water, to always be aware of wind and tide and if using small craft of any type to be properly equipped with buoyancy aids, a means of communication such as a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch and clothing suitable for the kind of activity being undertaken”
There are around 400 deaths a year from drowning around Britain's coasts, rivers and lakes. As a result, the RNLI has launched its Respect the Water campaign.