A stark warning has been issued to Christmas revellers after two men slipped off the sea wall into the freezing waters of the Irish Sea.
The Coastguard has urged residents celebrating over the next couple of weeks to stay away from the water after the rescue in the early hours of Tuesday, which also saw a university student fall into the sea while trying to rescue the 20 and 21-year-old.
All three were plucked to safety by the Coastguard – but it could have been much worse for the two men, who had to be treated at Blackpool Victoria Hospital for the effects of the cold.
Station officer for Blackpool and Lytham, Paul Little said: “By acting foolishly near water, you not only risk yours or your friends’ lives but also those of the emergency services sent to attempt to rescue you.
“We would urge everyone to take extra care around the coast when out and about over the Christmas and New Year holidays.
“Alcohol and water don’t mix.
“The sea temperatures are currently only 6C. This means if you end up in the water your survival time before hypothermia takes you is a few minutes.”
Passers-by called 999 after seeing the two men, who had been on a night out and were worse for wear, in the sea under North Pier at around 3am.
Life rings were thrown towards the pair without success, and two lifeboats from Blackpool and one from Lytham were launched.
After the trio were helped ashore, they were taken by police van to Blackpool RNLI’s lifeboat station, where they warmed up in a drying room.
RNLI launch authority for Blackpool, Paul Parton, added: “The RNLI has a national campaign called Respect The Water. We keep banging on about it, but if people do treat it with respect they will be safe.”
He said entering even calm looking water could trigger a cold water reaction – which makes it difficult to breathe – and see people pulled away by the strong under-current.
He also called for people to look after their friends while out over the festive period, adding: “It’s extremely dangerous if you have alcohol in your system. Common sense goes out the window.
“If you are out in a group and near the water, try and look after your mates.”
As well as the RNLI’s campaign, The Gazette launched its Think Sea Safety campaign in June 2012 to raise awareness of the sea’s danger, with 23 people killed in the sea off Blackpool in the last 29 years.
Thirteen have been at Gynn Square.