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Interim CMO warns public to be 'sun smart' ahead of Status Yellow heat warning

The warning will be valid from midday tomorrow and will run until Sunday at 6am.

Image: Sam Boal

INTERIM CHIEF MEDICAL Officer Dr Breda Smyth has warned the public to take care in the sun in the coming days, ahead of a Status Yellow high temperature warning for Leinster and Munster.

The warning will be valid from midday on Thursday and will run until Sunday at 6am with temperatures forecast to soar up to 29 degrees Celsius this week.

In a press statement from the Department of Health, Smyth said that older people, young children and babies are particularly vulnerable in hot weather.
Dept of Health 005 File photo of interim CMO Dr Breda Smyth Source: Leah Farrell/
Smyth issued the following advice to stay safe in the sun:

  • Apply suncream regularly and liberally – SPF30 or higher for adults, and SPF50 for children
  • Wear light and loose-fitting clothing that covers your skin, wear a hat and sunglasses
  • Drink lots of water – an adult needs around two litres of liquid over 24 hours

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke
Smyth said: “Heat exhaustion is not usually serious if you can cool down within 30 minutes. Signs of heat exhaustion include headache, dizziness and confusion, loss of appetite and feeling sick, fast breathing or pulse, high temperature of 38C or above and being very thirsty.”

If heat exhaustion is not treated, however, it can lead to heatstroke, which means the body is no longer able to cool itself down and this needs to be treated as an emergency.

“If you feel unwell, or you or your children display any of the above symptoms immediately move to a cool place, rest and hydrate. If needed, seek medical attention.”

Smyth advised that “if you are using air conditioning, make sure it is using a fresh air supply, which is important to prevent spread of Covid-19.

“Electric fans need to be used with caution, as they may not be safe for higher temperatures and should not be used where a person may be incubating or a case of Covid-19.

Water safety
Swimmers and bathers have been advised to be cautious – Smyth said that people should not go swimming alone, and children should be supervised at all times.

Those swimming in open water should beware of hidden hazards and currents, she said.

Several people have drowned in Irish waters in recent weeks, including a brother and sister who got into difficulty off Ballybunion Beach in Kerry last week.

Other tips to remain safe in the water include:

  • Don’t stay in the water too long
  • Wear a lifejacket when boating
  • Swim close and parallel to shore
  • Never swim after drifting objects
  • Beware of hidden hazards and currents
  • Swim between flags and be sure to know your flags at the beach or lake

The ESB has also warned of the dangers of swimming in reservoirs.

The electricity supplier said in a statement that “these areas are not appropriate for swimming because of the risk of deep and fast-flowing waters, changing water levels and uneven ground.

“These waters include the reservoirs at Poulaphouca in County Wicklow, Golden Falls and Leixlip in County Kildare, Inniscarra and Carrigadrohid in County Cork, the Ardnacrusha headrace and tailrace canal in County Clare and Assaroe, Lough Nacung and Lough Dunlewey in County Donegal.”

Met Éireann has said that “maximum temperatures above 25 degrees look very likely for much of Munster and Leinster” between today and Sunday.

The UN’s IPCC has said that global warming has caused an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events such as drought and heatwaves.

The world has already warmed by about 1.1 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times largely due to human activity, and the IPCC has warned that global heating is virtually certain to pass 1.5 degrees, probably within a decade.

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