As visitors flock to Tynemouth and South Shields Piers to enjoy stunning views of the harbour entrance during the summer months the Port of Tyne is reminding people of the importance of lifebelts.
Throughout the summer months and as the school holidays get under way the Port of Tyne has seen an increase in vital lifesaving equipment disappearing after being thrown into the water for no reason.
The 19 lifebelts on both piers enable people to visit them safely and give the emergency services crucial time to respond to incidents by keeping casualties afloat while they come to the rescue.
Although it is rare for visitors who behave responsibly to get into difficulty, the Port wants to spread the message that lifebelts save lives.
Steven Clapperton, Director of Health and Safety and Environment and Marine Harbour Master, said: “Although the lifebelts are put to proper use by the majority of people, the hot weather and school holidays see an increase in them being thrown from the piers for no reason.
“Lifebelts are vital lifesaving aids and the key piece of equipment which keeps people who have ended up in the water safe until the rescue services can get to them.”
Lifebelts are for use in emergencies only and should never be removed needlessly or vandalised. A missing lifebelt could mean the difference between life and death.
The lifebelts, which are fastened to the piers at 100m intervals, are checked each time the Port’s pier watchmen do a patrol, several times a day.
Members of the public are urged not to put themselves at risk in trying to recover any lifebelts but to report their sighting to the Port of Tyne – which recovers roughly 50 percent of all lost lifebelts, and along with their floating ropes they can be expensive to replace.
The Port of Tyne receives no funding to help with the upkeep of North and South Piers and invests £200,000 in pier maintenance each year.