The Coast Guard has issued an urgent warning to beachgoers about a water toy that could prove deadly.
Authorities issued an inflatable boat alert after rescuing two men who swam 200m out to sea on a giant inflatable duck.
The pair were rescued after a friend in a kayak and a passerby on a paddleboard dragged them close enough to shore to swim back to shore.
The men had paddled into Westward Ho! North Devon beach on June 4th as they swam far from shore.
After initially swimming 75 meters, the men apparently realized their mistake and tried to paddle back.
But they were only drawn further out into the Bristol Channel.
Luckily, a concerned passer-by telephoned nearby RNLI Appledore volunteers, who arrived at the scene just as the men managed to return to shore.
Crewman Del Elsemore swam in to check on them.
Mr Elsemore said: “This member of the public’s quick thinking with a paddleboard kept a dire situation from getting any worse. He was the real lifesaver of the day.”
The service warned that inflatable toys were difficult to control and could drift into open water within “seconds” in strong winds and currents.
A spokeswoman for the charity RNLI said: “Given the strong tides and inshore breezes of the Bristol Channel, Appledore RNLI urges people never to take an inflatable toy into the sea.”
“There is no way to control these and they will be removed from shore within seconds.”
“If any member of the public sees anyone getting into trouble in the water, like this eyewitness did, please call 999 and ask for the Coast Guard.”
Brighton City Council and the City of Hove have also urged beachgoers not to use inflatable boats in the sea.
The council warned that “fatal incidents” had occurred as a result of sharing beach toys.
A warning on their website reads: “Given the continued sunny weather, we urge residents and visitors to exercise caution when going into the sea and not to use inflatable boats.”
“The Brighton & Hove coast can be extremely dangerous with winds blowing from different directions creating dangerous sea conditions on the coast.”
“The RNLI guideline states that inflatable boats, inflatable toys and air mattresses are designed for pool use and should not be used in the sea as they can easily be washed out.”
The Coast Guard has already warned people on inflatable unicorns, flamingos and inflatable boats after incidents in recent years.
Piers Stanbury of the HM Coastguard previously said: “We cannot stress this enough – inflatable boats are not suitable for use at sea.”