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HSE issues safety warning as Galway temperatures hit 29C

Enda Cunningham



As temperatures hit 29°C in Galway this afternoon, the HSE and Department of Health have issued a warning and advice so that people can safely enjoy the good summer weather.

HSE Assistant National Director for Health Protection, Dr Kevin Kelleher and Department Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan said that staying well is mostly a matter of common sense.

“During a hot spell deaths in people aged 75 and over can rise by up to 60% more than would normally be expected. Those with heart, respiratory and serious health problems are more at risk of potentially adverse effects of very warm weather, while babies and young children are also especially at risk,” said Dr Kelleher. 

They advised that while the heat can affect anyone, the following are most at risk of serious harm:

  • Older people, especially those over 75.
  • Babies and young children.
  • People with serious mental health problems.
  • People on certain medication.
  • People with a serious chronic condition, particularly breathing or heart problems.
  • People who already have a high temperature from an infection.
  • People who misuse alcohol or take illicit drugs.
  • People with mobility problems.
  • People who are physically active, like manual workers and athletes.

They also provided information on staying cool, what to do if you are unwell and advice on the use of medicines during very warm weather.

Top tips for keeping cool

It is best avoid getting too hot in the first place. Remember to think of those who may be more at risk from the effects of heat.

Stay out of the heat:

  • Keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm.
  • 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.
  • Avoid extreme physical exertion. If you can’t avoid strenuous outdoor activity, like sport, DIY or gardening, keep it for cooler parts of the day, like early morning or evening.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes and a hat to shade face, neck and ears
  • Wear a broad brimmed hat and sunscreen with UVA protection factor 20, 30, 40, or 50 depending on your skin type. If you have children make sure they are properly protected as their skin is extra sensitive. 
  • Wear sunglasses

Cool yourself down:

  • Drink plenty of cold drinks, and avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks.
  • Eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with a high water content.
  • Take a cool shower, bath or body wash.
  • Sprinkle water over the skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck.

Keep your environment cool:

  • Keep your living space cool.  This is especially important for infants, the elderly or those with chronic health conditions or those who can’t look after themselves.
  • Keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day, and open windows at night when the temperature has dropped.
  • Close curtains that receive morning or afternoon sun.
  • Turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment – they generate heat.
  • Keep plants and bowls of water in the house as evaporation helps cool the air.
  • If possible, move into a cooler room, especially for sleeping.
  • Electric fans can help but only if temperature is below 35C.       

Look out for others:

  • Keep an eye on isolated, elderly, ill or very young people and make sure they are able to keep cool.
  • Ensure that babies, children or elderly people are not left alone in stationary cars.
  • Check on elderly or sick neighbours, family or friends every day during a heatwave.
  • Be alert and call a doctor or social services if someone is unwell or further help is needed

Advice on medicines

  • Many prescription medicines can reduce your tolerance of heat. You should keep taking your medicines, but take extra care to keep cool.
  • Danger symptoms to watch out for in hot weather include: feeling faint and dizzy, short of breath, vomiting or increasing confusion.   Take immediate action if danger symptoms of heatstroke are present: Cool down as quickly as possible. However do not take aspirin or paracetamol – this can make you worse.  Do however carry on taking all other prescribed medicines.  Seek further advice from a doctor, or ring 999 if the person has collapsed.
  • Keep medicines below 25°C or in the refrigerator (read the storage instructions on the packaging).
  • Seek medical advice if you are suffering from a chronic medical condition or taking multiple medications.      

If you or others feel unwell

  • Try to get help if you feel dizzy, weak, anxious or have intense thirst and headache; move to a cool place as soon as possible and measure your body temperature.
  • Drink some water or fruit juice to rehydrate.
  • Rest immediately in a cool place if you have painful muscular cramps (particularly in the legs, arms or abdomen, in many cases after sustained exercise during very hot weather), and drink oral rehydration solutions containing electrolytes.
  • Seek medical attention as needed if heat cramps last more than one hour.
  • Consult your doctor if you feel unusual symptoms or if symptoms persist.

Seek advice if you have any concerns:

  • Contact your doctor or a pharmacist if you are worried about your health during a heatwave, especially if you are taking medication, if you feel unwell or have any unusual symptoms.
  • Watch for cramp in your arms, legs or stomach, feelings of mild confusion, weakness or problems sleeping.
  • If you have these symptoms, rest for several hours, keep cool and drink water or fruit juice. Seek medical advice if they get worse or don’t go away.

If you suspect someone has heatstroke:

  • Remember, heatstroke can kill. It can develop very suddenly, and rapidly lead to unconsciousness. If you suspect someone has heatstroke, call 999 immediately.
  • While waiting for the ambulance, move the person somewhere cooler if possible, increase ventilation by opening windows or using a fan and cool the affected person as quickly as possibly by loosening their clothes, sprinkling them with cold water or wrapping them in a damp sheet. If they are conscious, give them water or fruit juice to drink. Do not give them aspirin or paracetamol.


Galway City school relocates to the Races after flooding

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Winner alright! Winner alright! When a city Gaeltacht school effectively became homeless overnight due to flooding hell at Halloween, it turned adversity into opportunity by temporarily relocating to Galway Racecourse, which has been a massive success.

Disaster struck for Scoil Bhríde in Menlo during the October mid-term break when water from a suspected burst pipe flooded through the ceiling, damaging woodwork, electrics and equipment in classrooms.

Principal Máire De Brún, assistant principals Siobhán Ó Neill and Deirdre Ní Cheallaigh, and the board of management, chaired by Patricia Coleman, were faced with two options. The first was an emergency closure of the school for a week to fix the problem, which they ruled out.

“We took the bull by the horns and decided to go hell for leather and find another venue to house us so that the repairs could be done without pressure and so that the kids could continue school on the Monday after mid-term,” explained Ms De Brún.

The leak probably occurred on the Wednesday, and was discovered on Thursday, which gave only a few days to find a new school.

“When I look back on it, I don’t know how we did it,” laughed Ms De Brún.

First, she tried the Menlo Park Hotel, whose management was “extraordinarily helpful”. But because of Covid-19 restrictions, it couldn’t accommodate all 190 pupils in the school, pre-school and 10 staff.

Ballinfoile Community Hall was “absolutely fantastic” too, and agreed to house temporary classrooms. Those two venues still couldn’t cater for all students, and so Ms De Brún had to find another venue for two more classes.

“Someone suggested the Racecourse and we went out and met Michael [Moloney, Racecourse Manager] and said we just need it for two classes but when we were standing in the Killanin Stand, we said, ‘What are we thinking, let’s just move the whole lot out here and they’ll be under the one roof, they’ll have four floors, they’ll have plenty of space, they can run around outside?’,” she recalled.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Some Galway City pubs ‘will never reopen’

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – There are several pubs in Galway that will never reopen their doors as a result of the “bitterly disappointing” decision to keep pubs closed under Covid-19 restrictions.

That’s according to the new Chair of Galway City branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, Johnny Duggan, who said there were a number of pub owners who had already given up their leases and many more who found themselves in “serious difficulty” after being forced to stay closed for the best part of eight months.

From today (Friday), restrictions have been eased to allow for the reopening of restaurants and pubs that serve food. However, so-called ‘wet pubs’, which do not operate a kitchen, have been forced to remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Mr Duggan said there were a number of publicans under severe pressure to meet rent and loan commitments, and without adequate support, the future remained very uncertain.

“What the Government has given is three double payments of the CRSS (Covid Restrictions Support Scheme), but that comes nowhere near what you would normally turn over at this time of year. It’s welcome, but it’s just not enough.

“There are an awful lot of people who won’t survive this,” he said.

Mr Duggan said publicans found it “very strange” that they had been allowed bring food in from off-site premises to satisfy the need for a substantial meal when restrictions were eased in the summer, but that option was not available this time around.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Galway Garda chief appeals for ‘special’ Christmas effort

Francis Farragher



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway’s most senior Garda has appealed to students and young people to make ‘one special effort’ over the Christmas holiday season to keep contact and travel to a minimum.

Yesterday (Thursday), some groups of students had organised mock ‘Christmas Day’ celebrations in keeping with the custom of recent years in the week before the end of the first semester at the city’s third-level colleges.

Gardaí had extra patrols on duty through the course of the day and last night to keep tabs on any improvised gatherings as part of their Covid-19 campaign in the run-up to Christmas.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley told the Galway City Tribune that the last thing the Gardaí wanted to do was to adopt what some people might describe as a ‘heavy-handed’ approach to gatherings of young people.

“The last eight months or so have been tough for all of us, but it has to be acknowledged that there has been a very high level of buy-in from everyone, including students and young people.

“We are at the point where a lot of progress in terms of containing the spread of Covid-19 has been made, but I suppose the key message we want to get out there now is to ‘stick with it’ over the coming weeks and months,” said Chief Supt Curley.

However, he did caution that if students or young people did break the law in terms of not abiding by the coronavirus regulations, they would be facing prosecution and a potential criminal conviction. “This is not what we want, or indeed what any student needs, as they look ahead to their career prospects,” he said.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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