Ever since Instagram exploded into our lives a few years ago, it's become practically unacceptable to go on any kind of villa holiday without a novelty inflatable. Think unicorns, pineapples, emojis; you name it, it'll have been floating around a pool near you.
In swimming pools, these floats are fine. They're great, in fact, there's nothing wrong with drifting lazily across the water, preferably with a drink in hand. But the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has recently released a warning to remind people of the dangers of using such floats in the sea.
"People don't appreciate that these simply aren't designed for the sea," the RNLI's coastal safety manager Ross Macleod told The Sun, adding that bringing the inflatables out on to open water "could easily end in tragedy."
The RNLI was called for assistance in 479 sea rescues involving these kinds of floats in 2018—a figure almost double what it was the year before.
The lightweight nature of unicorn floats means they are easily swept away by the tide. "They're basically massive sails which can whisk you miles out to sea in seconds," RNLI's Ross Macleod explained.
Following one incident in the summer of 2017, which involved a float at sea, Dave Haines, Lifeboat Operations Manager with Looe RNLI in Cornwall warned, "This type of incident highlights the dangers of using inflatables in the open sea. Blow-up toys and airbeds are designed for pools, not the sea where they can easily and very quickly be swept out far from shore. Beachgoers should always make themselves aware of the wind direction and strength as offshore winds will blow inflatables further out to sea," he said.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.