LIFEBOAT volunteers have launched a new safety campaign in a bid to cut the number of call-outs to rescue broken-down boats.
Sunderland RNLI has organised a special workshop, along with one-to-one sessions, to help prevent mechanical failures, which accounted for almost half of its emergency launches from Sunderland last year.
Volunteers and divisional mechanics will be available at the event in the city to offer guidance to boat owners, giving them a greater understanding of some of the common causes of engine failure.
The charity’s Sea Safety Road Show caravans will also be on site, offering general advice and information on key equipment such as lifejackets and radios.
Alan Dixon, sea safety officer, said: “Each year, mechanical failure is the number one reason for emergency lifeboat launches both locally and nationally.”
In 2011, lifeboats launched 8,905 times and rescued 7,976 people around the coast of the UK and Ireland.
Lifeguards also helped 17,671 people across 163 beaches.
“The aim of this event is to help educate boat owners on simple precautions they can take to help reduce the risk of their vessel suffering mechanical failure,” said Mr Dixon.
“This will not only allow people to enjoy their time out on the water, but also reduce the number of occasions our lifeboat volunteers are called into action.
“Trained staff and volunteers will be on hand to give free safety advice on lifejackets.
“Boat owners are encouraged to bring their own lifejackets, and those of family and crew, to have a chat about them and take part in our lifejacket clinic.”
The free event will take place at the RNLI lifeboat station at North Dock Marina, Roker, tomorrow, between 10.30am and 4pm.
For those who cannot make the workshop, the RNLI offers a free, friendly sea safety service called Advice Onboard, previously SEA Check.
Boat owners can arrange for an RNLI Sea Safety volunteer to visit their boat and discuss all aspects of safety.
For more information, or to book a session, go to www.rnli.org.uk/adviceonboard.