People urged to stay hydrated as Met Éireann issues first orange alert for high temperatures

Forecaster says alert is ‘quite unusual for Ireland’ as Holohan warns of dangers

 Swimmers at Sandycove, Co Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Swimmers at Sandycove, Co Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Met Éireann has issued the country’s first orange alert for high temperatures, with highs exceeding 30 degrees forecast over the coming days.

The national forecaster issued a status yellow weather warning for this week for “not unusual weather but conditions that may bring localised danger”.

It later upgraded the warning to status orange for Cavan, Monaghan, south Leitrim, Roscommon, Longford, Westmeath. It said these areas will see maximum temperatures topping 30 degrees in places and overnight temperatures dropping no lower than about 20 degrees.

The forecaster said high temperatures would continue this week with hot conditions by day and staying very warm and humid at night.

A spokeswoman for Met Éireann said the orange weather warning is the first issued for high temperatures in Ireland.

“We have issued orange warnings before for wind and snow but never for high temperatures specifically. It’s really quite unusual for Ireland. The most unusual thing is that it’s staying very warm overnight. It’s not often we see temperatures of 20 degrees overnight in Ireland - that is more like a really good summer’s day in Ireland in July.”

Temperatures reached their highest on Tuesday in Mount Dillon, Roscommon, at 29.5 degrees.

“It looks like the temperature of 29.6 that we reached at the weekend in Laois won’t quite be reached and Saturday looks to be the highest temperature of the year so far,” she said.

However, this could change as temperatures are being continuously monitored.

Meanwhile, the Met Office in Northern Ireland have issued an extreme heat warning as temperatures in Ballywatticock in Co Down reached 31.2 degrees, breaking a national record set in 1976 and again in 1983.

Exposure

Following Met Éireann’s warning, the State’s chief medical officer Tony Holohan said people should get outdoors this week to reduce exposure to Covid-19, but also to enjoy the weather.

However, he warned it was “ important to do so in as safe a way as possible”.

Dr Holohan said people should “regularly and liberally apply sunscreen that has a sun protection factor of at least 30 plus for adults and 50 plus for children, wear light and loose-fitting clothing that covers your skin, wear a hat and sunglasses. Keep yourself cool and hydrated.”

Other risks to be mindful of during this spell of hot weather are heat exhaustion.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) said heatwaves can cause “ significant increases in mortality” especially in older people, young children and more vulnerable groups.

The advice for staying safe is to first of all keep cool and minimise unnecessary heating. People should keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm and if outdoors wear clothing that covers the skin and sunscreen.

The HSE said dampening skin may help keep cool and if using air conditioning, make sure it is using a fresh air supply, which is important to prevent spread of Covid-19.

Electric fans need to be used with caution, as they may not be safe for higher temperatures and should not be used where a person may be incubating or a case of Covid-19.

The HSE also advised people to stay hydrated and to check on those who may be particularly vulnerable, including babies and the elderly.

People should contact their GP or the hospital emergency department if they are unwell and especially if they are showing signs of serious dehydration that needs urgent care, the HSE said.

Iarnród Éireann on Tuesday advised customers to stay hydrated when travelling during the hot weather spell.

In recent months, the company has installed water refill stations at nine of its busiest stations, to enable customers to refill water bottles using contactless dispensers prior to travel.

Stations equipped with water refill stations are Dublin Connolly, Dublin Pearse, Dublin Heuston, Dundalk, Athlone, Galway, Tralee, Killarney, Limerick.

The company has advised travellers to avoid unnecessary travel if unwell, to wear comfortable clothing and to ask for assistance or, if on a busy peak service, to ask for a seat if unwell while travelling.

Some rail track maintenance works are being deferred, as unsettling the track bed “can increase the risk of rail buckling in the heat,” a statement said.

However, engineers say that rail heat levels, while high, “are not at levels to cause concern”.

Earlier, the Road Safety Authority warned drivers to be aware of “sun glare’” which can result in drivers being temporarily dazzled or blinded.

It advised drivers to wear sun glasses and be aware of the dangers of sun glare when travelling east in the mornings and west later in the day.

It said drivers should have adequate supplies of water as delays to journeys could result in being stuck in traffic in hot conditions. Children and pets are particularly at risk during these hot spells of weather, the authority said.

Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists were advised to beware of the dangers that sun glare can cause, especially when crossing the road and at junctions.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has also warned of high temperatures on roads surfaces which can melt bitumen and loosen chips on more minor roads. Road users are advised to slow down and exercise caution when braking in such situations.