Saturday 21 July 2018

Health fears on the rise as country braces itself for hottest summer since 1976

  • Country braced for hottest summer since 1976

  • Temperatures begin to soar to as high as 30C

  • Care advised as excessive heat poses risk to elderly, young children and those with pre-existing medical conditions

  • Asthma and hayfever suffers were warned pollen that counts were high, especially in Leinster

HOT: Sunbathers at Brittas Bay yesterday. Photo: Neil Carson
HOT: Sunbathers at Brittas Bay yesterday. Photo: Neil Carson

Alan O'Keeffe and Philip Ryan

A heatwave predicted to be the hottest since 1976 is raising concerns for health and safety.

Temperatures are likely to rise as high as 30C in some areas later this week. Care is being advised as excessive heat poses a risk to the elderly, young children and those with pre-existing medical conditions.

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, urged people to take precautions during the heatwave. Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Minister Harris said: "So many people are looking forward to the good weather and I can fully relate to that. But we're going to experience high temperatures, so it's important though that people take care and stay safe and well during the hot period."

He said the health service was offering the following advice during this period: while the heat can affect anyone, older people and young children were most at risk.

Between 11am and 3pm is the hottest time of the day, so try to avoid spending too long in sun during these times.

If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen with UVA protection and wear a hat and light scarf. Also avoid extreme physical exertion.To cool yourself down drink plenty of cold drinks, and avoid excess alcohol and caffeine.

"I'd also ask everyone to keep an eye on isolated, elderly, ill or very young people and make sure they are able to keep cool," the minister said.

"Ensure that babies, children or elderly people are not left alone in stationary cars and check on elderly or sick neighbours, family or friends every day during a heat wave.

"Be alert and call a doctor or social services if someone is unwell or further help is needed."

People are being asked to pay attention to water safety as they flock to beaches, riverbanks and lakesides. Following the deaths of two schoolboys while swimming in a quarry near Ennis last month, the official advice is to stay away from unapproved swimming areas.

The last prolonged bout of hot weather was in 2013 when 13 people drowned in a single month. The public is being urged to adhere to water safety guidelines and ensure there is no tampering with lifebuoys.

Met Eireann forecaster Deirdre Lowe said the nation can expect "warmer and warmer weather" with temperatures of 25C today, tomorrow 26C, and reaching a peak on Thursday and Friday with temperatures of 27C, 28C and "possibly 30C".

It will become more humid as the week goes on but the risk of showers was "minimal".

This could even be the hottest summer since 1976.

"There could be a drought situation. There's high soil moisture deficits and they are going to get worse, particularly in Leinster," she said.

Asthma and hayfever suffers were warned pollen that counts were high, especially in Leinster.

Ms Lowe said: "The evenings are going to be warm and balmy and you don't often get that in Ireland."

In Ireland it was usual for temperatures to get fresher at night, but this week "it is going to be continental, like on the continent, like being abroad", she said.

Pets should be given plenty of water. Dogs should not be left in cars in the heat.

Sunday Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News