Major incident declared as thousands flock to beaches

A major incident has been declared after thousands of people flocked to beaches on the south coast of England during this week’s hot weather.

Scorching temperatures saw the mercury rise to 30 in parts of the UK before midday today.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council said services were “completely overstretched” as huge numbers of visitors defied advice to stay away.



Council leader Vikki Slade said: “We are absolutely appalled at the scenes witnessed on our beaches, particularly at Bournemouth and Sandbanks, in the last 24-48 hours.

“The irresponsible behaviour and actions of so many people is just shocking and our services are stretched to the absolute hilt trying to keep everyone safe. We have had no choice now but to declare a major incident and initiate an emergency response.”

The council said 558 parking enforcement fines had been issued – the highest on record.

Dorset Police has urged people to stay away from the area.

Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya said: “These are unprecedented times and we are urging people to stay away from the area of Bournemouth beach and other Dorset beaches.

“We continue to work very closely with BCP council and other partners to ensure the safety of the public.

“We are also deploying additional resources to provide increased patrols in the vicinity to help tackle any issues of anti-social behaviour and other offences being committed.



Major incident declared as thousands flock to beaches

“The declaration of a major incident allows us to bring agencies together so we can take actions available to us to safeguard the public as much as possible.

“We are also reliant on people taking personal responsibility and strongly advise members of the public to think twice before heading to the area. Clearly we are still in a public health crisis and such a significant volume of people heading to one area places a further strain on emergency services resources.

“This influx of visitors to our area places a significant increase in demand on our service and we would ask people to please bear with us.

“We would therefore stress again that we are asking people to please stay away from the area.”

Thursday’s high could top the 32.6C (90.7F) reached on Wednesday, making it the hottest day of the year so far.

There have been warnings not to be tempted to cool off in open water, following the deaths of two people in recent days in Berkshire and Scotland.

A 10-year-old boy died after getting into difficulty in Loch Lubnaig, near Callander in the Highlands on Wednesday evening, Police Scotland said.

Meanwhile, a body was found following a search for a missing man at Lulle Brook in Cookham, Berkshire.



Major incident declared as thousands flock to beaches

A cousin told the PA news agency that Syrian refugee Eyad Al Ryabi had gone into the water on Tuesday evening to try to help his friend.

The friend survived and was taken to hospital, Thames Valley Police said.

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) tweeted: “Although the weather is hot, the water is not. Cold water shock can take your breath away please do not be tempted to cool off in open water and #BeWaterAware.”

People have also been warned to stay hydrated while out and about in the hot conditions, with sunseekers flocking to beaches in huge numbers in recent days, despite social distancing measures still being in place.

An amber level three heat-health alert, issued by the Met Office, was extended on Thursday to take in Yorkshire and the east and south of England as well as the West and East Midlands.



Major incident declared as thousands flock to beaches

The warning requires social and healthcare services to target specific actions at high-risk groups, according to the Met Office website.

Health authorities have encouraged those most vulnerable – many of whom have been shielding during lockdown – to protect themselves amid the “exceptionally hot weather forecast this week”.

Public Health England (PHE) said older people, those with underlying health conditions, and very young children were all more at risk from the higher temperatures.

It is expected temperatures in west London could reach 33C (91.4F), while parts of Wales could see the mercury rise to 34C (93.2F).

The thermometer had already hit 30C at Porthmadog on Thursday morning.

People have been advised to keep cool and stay hydrated where possible.

The Met Office said UV levels were expected to remain at eight across many parts of the UK on Thursday.

Dr Michaela Hegglin, associate professor in atmospheric chemistry at the University of Reading’s Department of Meteorology, said Thursday could see some of the “highest UV levels ever recorded” in Britain.

She said: “This is because of a combination of factors. We are at the summer solstice, when the sun is almost directly overhead at one o’clock.

“UV levels this high are rare in the UK, so people with light skin should be very careful to avoid getting burnt.

“While UV is important for getting vitamin D and keeping us healthy, too much of it can cause skin cancer or eye cataracts.”

How Bournemouth looked on Wednesday:

Friends, family and neighbours have been urged to keep checking on the vulnerable, who might still be spending more time at home due to coronavirus, by keeping in touch on the phone.

Shoppers have also been advised to be aware they could be forced to spend extra time in the sun as a result of social distancing measures, and warned to protect themselves by bringing water and wearing high factor sunscreen.

Dog owners have been urged to avoid exercising their pets during the hottest part of the day, with Vets Now, a provider of emergency veterinary care, warning that the average survival rate of a dog diagnosed with heatstroke was 50%.

Meanwhile, fire chiefs said they wanted to “debunk this myth” that hand sanitiser left in hot cars could pose a fire risk.

Roy Wilsher, NFCC chair said: “We want to reassure people that this product will not combust if left in a car – even on the hottest day. For hand sanitiser to cause a fire it would need to come into contact with a spark.

“Hand sanitiser is very important in the fight against the spread of Covid-19, therefore it is is essential we debunk this myth.”

People are advised to keep their hand sanitisers containers closed and out of direct sunlight and ensure they keep it away from any naked flame.

London Fire Brigade has warned people not to have barbecues on dry grass, not to drop cigarettes or matches, and not to leave rubbish such as glass bottles lying around amid a risk they could start fires.

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