A MAN and woman had to be rescued after getting swept out to sea on an inflatable flamingo.

Lifeguards at South Shields spotted the couple in trouble at around 2.30pm on Sunday.

A 24-year-old woman had started trying to swim back to the shore, while the man, 27, was trying to hang on the inflatable.

The couple were around 40m off shore from Sandhaven Beach and were out on the giant inflatable, which was being taken further out to sea and outside of the red and yellow flags.

Although there were no strong offshore winds, the size of the inflatable meant it would not have taken long for the pair to be dragged even further out.

One of the charity’s lifeguards, Alex Gray, swam out on a rescue board to help the man back to the beach.

RNLI lifeguard Fergus Scherczer swam out with a rescue tube to help the woman.

Both casualties received aftercare from the lifeguards and an ambulance was called for the man as he required further medical attention due to taking in water.

RNLI lifeguard supervisor Alex Richardson said: “The lifeguards did an amazing job and this is a strong example of how inflatables are not designed for the beach and can be very quickly blown offshore.

‘However, if you do wish to use one, they should be tethered to the shore on a lifeguarded beach and only used between the red and yellow flags.

“It is also important to avoid taking inflatables out in big waves, and you should never use them when the orange windsock is flying as this indicates that there are offshore winds which will blow inflatables further out to sea.”