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Chief medical officer issues important safety advice ahead of heatwave

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Acting chief medical officer Dr Breda Smyth. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Acting chief medical officer Dr Breda Smyth. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Acting chief medical officer Dr Breda Smyth. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

The interim Chief Medical Officer has encouraged people to take extra care during the current hot spell as it presents health risks such as heat exhaustion.

Professor Breda Smyth has urged people to “look out for others around you” especially those who may be more vulnerable to the effects of heat such as older people, young children and babies.

Met Éireann has a weather advisory in place as the county will experience a hot spell developing from today and continuing through the rest of the week and the weekend.

“The exceptionally warm weather we are experiencing at the moment is a time for us all to enjoy being outside, but I would encourage people to take extra care when in the sun over the coming days,” Prof Smyth said.

The Department of Health has advised people to be ‘SunSmart’ by “regularly and liberally” applying sunscreen that has a sun protection factor of at least 30+ for adults and 50+ for children.

“Stay out of direct sunlight for prolonged periods as much as possible during the day, especially between the hours of 11am to 3pm when UV is strongest,” it said.

“Wear light and loose-fitting clothing that covers your skin, wear a hat and sunglasses

“Make sure you have enough water to drink, adults need approximately 2 litres of liquid over 24 hours.

“Other risks to be mindful of during this spell of hot weather are heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

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Prof 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,” she said.

“If not treated this 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.”

The Department of Health has recommended a number of ways to stay cool such as minimising unnecessary heating by turning off central heating, electrical equipment and lights that are not needed.

It advised people to use natural ventilation such as open windows when the air feels cooler outside than inside and where it is safe, secure and feasible to do so.

It is important to increase air flow through buildings wherever possible.

Dampening your skin may help keep you cool and if you are using air conditioning, make sure it is using a fresh air supply.

It said eectric fans need to be used with caution, as they may not be safe for higher temperatures.

The Department also urged people to be cautious when in the water and to never swim alone.

It urged people not to stay in the water too long, wear a life jacket when boating, to swim close and parallel to shore and to swim between flags and be sure to know your flags at the beach or lake.

It said people should never swim after drifting objects, beware of hidden hazards and currents and always supervise children at all times.

If you or anyone else is struggling, contact the emergency services immediately by calling 112 or 999.


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