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2013 Edition, January Issue

Alcohol is not Anti-freeze
by Sgt. Ed Jones

    As we begin 2013 during the winter months, it is important to remember that drinking alcohol in cold weather is not a good idea.  Alcohol is a staple of tailgating at football games and parties with large groups of people.  Invariably the drinking is done outside.  Being out in the cold, we tend to believe that a “little sip” will help to take away the chill.  This belief is enhanced since our faces become flush and our skin is warm, regardless of the temperature outside.  These signs of warmth are misleading and hide the chilling facts about drinking alcohol in cold weather.

    While alcohol may make us feel hotter, it actually aids in decreasing the core body temperature.  Normally when we feel cold, it is because blood has flowed from our skin into our organs to keep our core body temperature warm.  After alcohol consumption, blood flows into the skin, giving us that warm feeling but leaving our body temperature to decrease rapidly.  The absence of this blood flow reflex during intoxication makes it quite possible for a person’s body temperature to take a major dip without them even realizing it.

    If it is frigid outside, your best bet is to stay sober.  If you do consume alcohol during the colder months, stay inside or bundle up before you go out.

    * Information for this article was gathered from Virtual Hospital: Health Prose: Effects of Alcohol in the Cold. Univ. of Iowa Health Science Relations.

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