Government issues stark warning to sun worshippers
THE Government has issued a safety warning as tens of thousands of sun worshippers hit the roads and flock to beaches this weekend, with temperatures to reach 29C.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar warned road users of the hazards posed by melting tar and advised bathers to take extra care at beaches, lakes and rivers following a spate of recent drownings.
He said the increase in road deaths this year was "extremely worrying" and urged those on the move this weekend to enjoy the good weather, but to also drive safely.
"Bear in mind that in the hot weather...the tar can actually start melting on some of the roads so that can create an additional safety hazard.
"Unfortunately there isn't an effective method of cooling the roads, so it's really just one of those areas where we need to make people aware of the fact it is a safety hazard.
"Everyone knows that when the roads are cold and icy they are a safety hazard...
"But they don't necessarily realise sometimes that in hot weather there can be risks, too," he added.
Speaking in Dublin, Mr Varadkar said the Coast Guard was having its busiest year in a long time due to the summer heatwave as temperatures soared to 30C in some parts yesterday.
"Most people that do drown, drown due to exhaustion.
"So people need to take extra care and let someone know where they are going. If you wouldn't drink and drive, don't go out on a boat with alcohol on board as well," he added.
North West MEP Jim Higgins called for hard-hitting water safety ads to be broadcast in a bid to drive home the message that drowning is the second biggest cause of death and injury among children.
"Terrifyingly, an average of 140 people drown in Ireland each year.
"Drowning is nearly as big a killer as road deaths, yet while we have moved mountains to increase road safety, we have yet to really tackle the issue of water safety," he said.
A major search operation involving a lifeboat crew and gardai was launched on land and sea yesterday for a five-year-old girl who went missing while playing on Ballinamona Strand in Ballycotton Bay, Co Cork.
Fortunately she was found around half an hour later safe and well and was reunited with her worried family.
Meanwhile, medics have warned that the heatwave has caused a surge in mosquitoes and midges, particularly along coastal areas. Dr Graham Fry, of the Tropical Medical Bureau, said mosquitoes were living on average an extra four days longer than their usual 10-day lifespan.
He said coastal areas in north county Dublin tended to have the biggest infestations of mosquitoes.
And Joe Doyle, an assessor with insuranceworks.ie, said he had come across 10 cases in the past week where expanding PVC window frames in homes had caused the glass to shatter.
"You know you haven't been burgled because the glass shatters from the inside," he explained.