Summer sunshine in the People's Park, Limerick Justy Herbaszewska, Khaleesi Gibbons with puppies, Trinity and Suzi. PICTURE: ADRIAN BUTLER
A RARE heatwave has descended on Longford, and not only are we expected to have one of the highest temperatures in Europe, we are meant to be experiencing the second highest temperatures in our history.
But with great sunshine comes great responsibility and local services, including the HSE, are urging the public to extra vigilant as temperatures are expected to hit 31 degrees by this Wednesday.
Do you have a question about the heatwave - ask us!
Why is this heatwave happening in Longford?
Believe it or not, this heatwave, proving to be one of the hottest in our history, stems from the Azores. This was also the root of Hurricane Ophelia back in October. It’s basically caused by a thing called an anticyclone that forces temperatures in surrounding areas to see an incremental increase on a daily basis.
I want to go for a walk and enjoy the sun while it’s here
Try avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm. That is when sunlight reaches its peak and is most harmful to our skin. But if you do walk in the sun, stroll in the shade.
What about walking the dog, cat, goat, etc?
As long as it’s in cool temperatures, you’re fine. Unfortunately, our furry friends don’t have shoes and their paws can get burned by the hot road surface.
Who are the most at risk of serious harm during this weather?
According to the HSE, there is a long list and they include people aged over 75; babies and young children; those with mental health problems; people on certain medications; people with chronic breathing or heart problems; people who have a high temperature from an infection; those who misuse alcohol or take illicit drugs; people with mobility problems; and people who are physically active, such as athletes or manual workers.
What’s the danger with medicines?
Some prescriptions can reduce our tolerance of heat. That doesn’t mean stop taking them; it just means you need to take extra care and keep cool. Keep all your medicines below 25 degrees or in a fridge (please read storage instructions). If unsure, ring your GP about your prescriptions.
What are the danger symptoms?
Keep an eye on the isolated, elderly, ill or young people, and watch out for some symptoms. These include faintness, dizziness, short of breath, vomiting or increased confusion. These can be symptoms of heatstroke.
What shouldn’t I do if I develop these symptoms in the heat?
You should not take aspirin or paracetamol. This can make things much worse. But do continue taking other medication. Seek further advice from a doctor, or ring 999 in the event of emergency.
What happens if I develop these symptoms?
If you are feeling dizzy, weak, anxious, have a headache or feel an intense thirst, move to a cool place as soon as possible and measure your body temperature. Drink some water or fruit juice and rest immediately in a cool place, especially if you are suffering from cramps. Generally, you can develop these cramps in the legs and abdomen. You should definitely seek medical advice if these cramps persist for more than an hour.
Can heatstroke kill?
Yes it can. It can develop suddenly and rapidly lead to unconsciousness.
If someone is unconscious from a heatstroke and I am waiting on an ambulance, what should I do?
Move the person somewhere cooler, if it is possible. Increase ventilation by opening windows or using a fan. Cool the person as quickly as possible by loosening their clothes. Sprinkle them with cold water or wrap them in a damp sheet. If they are conscious, give them some water or some fruit juice to hydrate. Remember again, do not give them aspirin or paracetamol.
Are there other heat-related illnesses we should look out for?
Yes, there are a few, such as heat rash, swelling of the ankles, heat cramps, exhaustion due to water and sodium depletion.
Can sun exposure cause cancer?
Yes, it can cause skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in Ireland. There are around 10,000 new cases diagnosed every year. They include melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, and they are all linked to sun exposure to UV radiation.
Is it a good time for doing outdoor work?
You would think so, but this severe sunlight and heat can be extremely harmful to our skin, especially when we engage in physically-laborious tasks, like gardening or construction work. If you can, try avoid strenuous outdoor activity, such as sport, DIY, gardening. Keep those tasks for cooler parts of the day - early in the morning or after 3pm.
I guess I should lose the jumper?
We haven’t seen a single person in a jumper this week. So, yes. Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes and a hat to shade the face, neck and ears. Also, wear wrap-around sun glasses with UV protection.
Should I wear sunscreen?
If you don’t, you run the risk of being absolutely scalded. That, in some cases, can lead to nasty rashes or blisters, and that means no beach action for you for the rest of the week. Our medical experts say Factor 50 and stronger, if you have it. It is extremely important to wear both UVA and UVB protection, to prevent deep and superficial burns.
It’s a great time for a drink after work, right?...RIGHT?
As long as it’s in moderation. Avoid excess alcohol, caffeine or hot drinks. Drink loads of water. The more you hydrate yourself, the cooler you are in the day time and for when you sleep at night. You can also sprinkle some water on your face or on your clothing. Here’s an old one - keep a damp cloth on your neck.
What kind of grub should I eat to keep cool?
Anything with strong water content. That can be a salad, fruit, vegetables.
I’m stuck in the office/at home and it’s still fair hot, what can I do?
We have an electric fan, the ones that rotate side to side, and it does the trick. If you have windows that are exposed to the sun, close them. Then open them at night time. Likewise, close curtains that receive morning or afternoon sun. Here’s a good one. If you have a plant or bowl of water, they are pretty useful as evaporation helps cool the air.
How long is this hot weather going to last?
We are going to see this weather peak at around Friday afternoon, reaching 31 degrees. The temperatures will start to fall after Saturday and we will see medium temperatures thereafter.
How do you know so much?
Thanks to the Health Service Executive, they have given us a tremendous amount of advice on how to keep safe and well during this heatwave. Check out more by clicking here!