VISITORS to Cramond Island will be sent warning messages as the tide draws in as lifeguards bid to slash the number of rescue missions.
Crews were called out to the island 178 times between 2008 and 2013 – rescuing 593 people and saving four lives.
Now the RNLI is teaming up with the coastguard to provide the free Text for Tides service, which will send out regular updates to those who have sent the word CRAMOND to 81400.
The island is one of the area’s top scenic draws, and is accessible only by the tidal causeway.
Yet because a vast majority of visitors are unfamiliar with the tidal schedule, an increasing number of tourists are finding themselves stranded on the island as the tide comes in.
Michael Avril, the RNLI’s community incident reduction manager, said: “We’re really pleased to be able to offer this service to the public free of charge. The service is easy to use and will tell people when it is safe to walk across to Cramond Island so they won’t end up cut off by the rising tide.
“Our research has shown that a high number of people become stranded on the island and we’re hoping to dramatically reduce that number with services like Text for Tides and allow people to enjoy Cramond Island safely.”
Earlier this year, six people – including a two-year-old girl – had to be rescued by a lifeboat at Cramond after they were trapped by the incoming tide.
And last week, two men were taken to hospital after separate incidents on the island.
The RNLI inshore rescue team from South Queensferry was first called to help transport a man in his 30s to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after he had a fit.
Then, hours later, the South Queensferry and Fisherrow Coastguard teams were called to the island to rescue another man in his late 20s.
Andrew Mather, the head of Cramond and Barnton community council, said it was surprisingly easy to get stranded on the island.
“Queensferry rescue station is the busiest in the UK because of that island,” he said.
“You don’t want to be stuck on the causeway as the tide is coming in. It comes in surprisingly fast, and you can end up finding yourself getting into trouble pretty quickly out there.”
This latest bid to curb the number of rescues at Cromond Island is part of the RNLI’s national Respect the Water campaign, which is aimed at alerting the public to the dangers of drowning.
Figures show that 39 people drowned off the coast of Scotland in 2013 with a total of 150 deaths over the last four years.
They reveal a clear gender divide with adult men accounting for more than two-thirds of the coastal deaths.
Across the United Kingdom, an average of 160 people die at the coast each year, and the RNLI is aiming to halve this number by 2024.