A Moray resident is lucky to be alive after life-saving equipment was removed from a local harbour this week.
Two life rings were missing from Portknockie Harbour when a person was washed into the sea from the breakwater.
Luckily four local wild swimmers and a local boat were nearby and, thinking quickly, used a creel to get a buoy into the sea and get them out of the water.
Moray Council and HM Coastguard have now teamed up with a stark warning to people tampering with life-saving equipment.
Moray Council’s Harbourmaster, Darren Bremner, said:
“Removing these life rings almost cost a life.
“Nobody wants that on their conscience.
“Quick thinking and luck that there were swimmers in the area means there was a more positive outcome on this occasion, but it could so easily have been a different story.
“We check the life rings at all our harbours regularly and this is the first time we’ve had life rings go missing.
“I know most people who live around here have a good understanding of how important they can be in an emergency.
“However, as with all elements of water safety we have to make sure that people are adequately educated on the dangers and what to do in an emergency.
“We’d ask parents to make sure children are aware of the consequences of removing life rings.
“We also remind all boat owners and harbour users to make sure they know where rings are situated.
“If anyone has concerns or sees anyone removing life rings they should alert the Harbourmaster immediately by phoning 01542 831700.”
Colin Wood, Senior Coastal Operations Officer for Moray with HM Coastguard, said:
“HM Coastguard received a 999-call reporting a person in the water at Portknockie Harbour at about 7.40pm on Wednesday 8 June.
“Buckie and Portsoy Coastguard Rescue Teams were sent immediately but arrived on scene to find the person had already been recovered by assisting members of the public.
“The quick-thinking people nearby saved a life but, had they not thought of a bit of an ingenious solution, it could have been a very different outcome.
“Safety equipment saves lives and when it is missing, a life is potentially put in grave danger, it is that simple.”
Safety advice from HM Coastguard:
If you are in danger at the coast, or you suspect someone else might be, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
Consider weather conditions and tide times; and remember that conditions can change suddenly.
Always remain aware.
If you plan to be at the water’s edge, consider wearing a lifejacket.
Take care with ‘selfies’ and be aware of your surroundings.
Cliffs and water edges can be slippery, it is easy to lose your footing.
If you do end up in the water unexpectedly, Float to Live.
Take a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof pouch so, if the worst happens, you can call for help.