As a status yellow high temperature warning kicks in for Munster from Thursday until Sunday, Met Éireann have warned this could pose a risk to people’s wellbeing, both due to heat stress and the heightened risk of water related incidents.
Leesiders are being warned to take care in the water as hot weather is set to continue for the rest of the week – particularly around well known swimming spots that can busy or dangerous.
The RNLI, Irish Coast Guard and Water Safety Ireland are urging people to plan for their personal safety when visiting the coast or when they are on or near the water this week.
Kevin Rahill, RNLI Water Safety Lead, Roger Sweeney from Water Safety Ireland, and Gerard O’Flynn from the Irish Coast Guard in a joint statement said that “just because an area looks safe for swimming it doesn’t mean that it is safe. Only swim in areas that are protected by lifeguards or in areas with which you are familiar. In the case of lifeguard protected beaches only swim between the red and yellow flags”.
Fine Gael Councillor for Cork City South-West, Derry Canty, warned that people shouldn’t be swimming in areas that are known to be dangerous, such as a popular swimming spot by the Weir in Ballincollig.
“There is an area at the eastern side of the dam down toward the city where teenagers gather, it was the old part of Ballincollig where people used to go swimming years ago. There are a lot of people swimming there at the moment, and even though there’s not a strong flow of water coming down right now, it’s still dangerous,” he said.
“Thanks be to God there’s been no accidents down there in the last few days since the heat came up,” he added.
People are being advised by the RNLI, Irish Coast Guard and Water Safety Ireland to ‘Float to Live’ if they get into trouble in the water. This means leaning back and spreading your arms and legs to stay afloat, controlling your breathing, then calling for help or swimming to safety.
Rip currents are difficult to spot but common on beaches, and can carry a person out to sea quickly. Those who find themselves caught in a rip current are advised not to exhaust yourself trying to swim against it. Rather swim parallel to the beach until free of the narrow current and then head for shore.
For those taking to the water on craft such as paddleboards and kayaks, it is important to remember a lifejacket or buoyancy aid, and a means of calling for help.
Fianna Fáil County Councillor for Carrigaline, Audrey Buckley, asked those flocking to Cork’s beaches to respect the local environment and residents, as it has been “very, very busy” at Myrtleville and Fountainstown this week.
“There’s a lot of traffic, we would ask people when they are parking to respect residents living in the area, and to keep areas free for emergency services if they need to get to somebody on the beach,” she said.
“And take your litter home. It’s very unfair on the residents and volunteers that have been cleaning beaches for the last couple of months. Just bring your litter home, so we can all enjoy the beach,” she added.
The interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr Breda Smyth, has warned people to take extra care of hot weather health risks in the coming days – especially those who are more vulnerable to the effects of the heat such as children and older people.
The interim CMO advised to apply sunscreen regularly and stay out of direct sunlight for prolonged periods, especially between 11am and 3pm when UV is strongest, and drink plenty of water.
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.
Heat exhaustion is not usually serious if you can cool down within 30 minutes, but 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.
If you or anyone else is struggling with the heat or a water related incident, contact the emergency services immediately by calling 112 or 999.
Meanwhile, areas of Clonakilty will continue to experience a night-time water restriction from 11pm -7am until further notice.
Irish Water have said the restrictions could be in place over the weekend, and apologised for the inconvenience caused to the people of Clonakilty.
Currently the majority of areas in West Cork are under water supply pressure due to increased demand. Irish Water and Cork County Council are closely monitoring water levels in a number of areas in the county and taking remedial measures to maintain normal supplies.
Irish Water has asked communities to play their part in conserving water usage during the hot weather, with simple steps such as checking for leaks in water pipes, and avoiding power washing or hosing gardens.