It seems obvious to state that a lifebuoy is an essential piece of life saving equipment yet people's lives are being put at risk by vandals who are stealing and damaging them.Market research has indicated rising reports of vandalism on life saving equipment; particularly prevalent are recurring incidences of stolen lifebuoys.
On average more than 400 people drown in the UK every year with drowning being the third leading cause of unintentional death worldwide. Therefore it is essential that lifebuoys are present when an emergency situation arises, and that the appropriate personnel are aware immediately when they are deployed.
Not only is the unauthorised removal of lifebuoys a risk to life, it is also proving to be a significant drain on resources.
From the perspective of those responsible for maintaining the equipment, it can be costly and require significant manpower to ensure that the equipment has not been subject to vandalism.
It has been reported that on average a UK council has to replace 150 stolen lifebuoys every year which can cost up to £45,000.
Even the time consuming process of regular manual inspections does not solve the problem as there have been reported incidents of lifebuoys being removed shortly after being checked.
"People's lives are being put at risk by vandals who are stealing and damaging lifesaving equipment from Carrickfergus waterfront" said Carrickfergus Harbour Master Nigel Thompson.
Between them the Council and the PSNI recorded 20 incidents over the past year in which lifebuoys have been stolen, thrown into the sea or had ropes cut.
The warnings come as the Borough has experienced an increase in members of the public using the sea and the shore for recreational activities such as fishing, boating and swimming.
Two harbours, Bangor and Carrickfergus, have recently installed a new real-time monitoring system to try to combat this issue. A bespoke, solar powered alarm is triggered when a lifebuoy is removed or damaged allowing a swift response from owners to either prevent theft or damage allowing these important pieces of safety equipment to remain in situ.
It is hoped that this will reduce the incidents of life saving equipment vandalism and ensure that the risk to the public is reduced.
To find out more about our lifebuoy monitoring system visit Sentry.