During the most recent heatwave in May, ten people drowned in 14 days. With Met Éireann reporting that temperatures are set to rise across the country over the next week, we are asking everyone to be vigilant around open waters - particularly where alcohol is present. During long stretches of high temperatures, we usually see an increase in people getting in touch to ask about the additional risks to be aware of if drinking alcohol in the sun and how to stay safe. Our advice is generally the same as for any other time of year but there are some things you should keep in mind if you drink alcohol in warm weather.
The simple truth is alcohol and swimming do not mix. In fact, according to Irish Water Safety (IWS), alcohol is a factor in over 30% of all drownings in Ireland. Alcohol affects your perception of danger, making you more likely to take unnecessary risks. Alcohol also impairs your balance and coordination - all essential for swimming and boating and avoiding hazards in the water. IWS warn that drownings can occur very quickly and silently, so swimming in quiet isolated area can be risky. Never swim if you have consumed alcohol and be vigilant around open waters.
Alcohol is a diuretic and so, drinking too much can lead to dehydration because the alcohol makes your kidney produce more urine. With the sun set to stick around for the week, don’t forget to keep hydrated by alternating each alcoholic drink with water. Of course, we should all enjoy the nice weather but for anyone who decides to drink alcohol in the sun, it is vitally important to stay hydrated with water. Keep a jug of water on the table to make this easier to remember.
Are you drinking within the HSE low-risk guidelines for alcohol consumption? Less than 3% of Irish adults can correctly identify the guidelines but they are important to know and can help you to see how much you are really drinking over the week. Remember, these are guidelines - not a target.
Common examples of one standard drink are a half pint of lager/stout/cider, a 100ml glass of wine or pub measure (35.5ml) of spirits. On average, it takes one hour for the body to process one standard drink and there's no quick fix - only time.