Cork County Council is appealing to everyone to stay safe over the August Bank Holiday weekend as it marks the first-ever ‘Amber Thursday’. The colour amber was chosen as it signifies a hazard or a warning. Amber Thursday is a collaboration between safety bodies, fire services and local authorities to help promote fire, road and water safety over the busy bank holiday weekend.
It has been a busy summer for the emergency services across the country. Sadly, there were nine swimming-related fatalities in Ireland last week. Swimming inland in lakes and rivers is proven to be particularly high risk in terms of water safety.
The recent dry spell and warm weather has resulted in an increase in outdoor fires while there have also been tragedies on the roads. Long journeys can lead to driver fatigue. Speeding and non-wearing of a seatbelt are also common factors in serious or fatal injuries by road users.
The Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr. Gillian Coughlan is calling on everyone to help ensure this August weekend is a safe one, 'To anyone taking to the roads over the bank holiday weekend, please be mindful of the many risks associated with travelling on the road.
'Everyone needs to share the road and be cautious and courteous towards one another. Evidence shows that the majority of road deaths have occurred on rural roads in 2021. Vulnerable road users account for almost half of serious injuries. I am appealing to everyone to remember that the road is a shared space and we must all look out for each other.
'Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are particularly at risk so please be careful when you are out on the County Cork Roads this weekend.”
This bank holiday weekend is a particularly busy time for firefighters who are called to various incidents including barbecue or domestic fires and road traffic collisions.
Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey encouraged members of the public to enjoy the weekend but to bear in mind the safety aspect of fire-related activities: 'Please respect our public areas and never light a camp-fire in parks, wildland areas, close to vegetation or trees and be mindful not to discard any cigarette butts on the ground. We are also asking everyone to enjoy our stunning coastal landscape but to park responsibly to avoid blocking Emergency Vehicle access at public amenity areas and always avail of our Lifeguard patrolled beaches.'
During the month of June alone, Cork County Council’s Beach Lifeguards prevented 965 incidents and gave advice to members of the public on 3,556 occasions. Since then, the number of people flocking to the county’s beautiful beaches has greatly increased. Lifeguards were called upon to rescue people using inflatables at the beach, swimming while under the influence and swimmers out of their depth with all beachgoers asked to be mindful of this during their visits.
Water and Road Safety Development Officer with Cork County Council Caroline Casey highlighted the important role adults have regarding behaviour around water and on the roads saying, “Role modelling safe behaviour around water and on the roads can never be underestimated as younger people in our community are watching and learning from us every day – in short, they will do as we do”.
Martin O’Sullivan, Chairman of Water Safety Ireland went on to say, 'We should all be particularly mindful of water safety during Bank Holiday weekends. Good weather and picture-postcard scenes can lull people into a false sense of security so it is important that people make every effort to swim at Lifeguarded waterways. Let them be there for you by going to any of the waterways listed at www.watersafety.ie/lifeguards where people should swim between the flags, within their depth, and never use inflatable toys that quickly put users in danger of drowning.'
Amber Thursday is supported by Local Authorities, the Chief Fire Officers Association, Road Safety Authority, Water Safety Ireland and Local Authority Road Safety Officers. Further information can be found at www.amberthursday.ie