Drinking Alcohol in the Cold Weather: A Myth Debunked

by Katie Bogusz on December 20, 2016

Did you know drinking alcohol in the cold is actually more dangerous for you because it lowers your core body temperature?  Here in Bridgewater we’re used to cold winters and we make sure to keep ourselves layered and warm during the freezing cold.  So why not make sure our insides are kept warm as well?  Read more about the dangers of drinking alcohol in the cold and what you can do to ensure your safety this winter!

infographic displaying 10 Responsible Drinking Strategies

Why is Drinking Alcohol in Cold Weather Dangerous?

Alcohol can make you think you’re warm.  It does this because alcohol dilates the peripheral blood vessels near your skin, which means more blood flow to these vessels.  This causes people to get a red or rosy complexion on their face and other parts of their body when they drink.  But this causes blood and heat to be taken away from the core of your body, lowering your core body temperature.  While it feels like you’re warm because your skin is warm, your vital organs aren’t as warm as you might think they are.

This is dangerous because it makes people believe they are warm when they’re drinking.  Drinking lowers rational thinking which could cause a person who normally wears a jacket outside to not do so because they believe the alcohol will keep them warm.  But, if you go outside in the cold after drinking you have a lot of heat on the periphery of your body which you can lose fast.  A person could also drink so much that they pass out outside, causing them to get hypothermia from the freezing conditions.

How to Stay Safe!

If you chose to drink make sure you do it safely.  Familiarize yourself with standard drink measures, for wine it’s 5 ounces, beer is 12 ounces, and hard liquor is 1 ounce.  Be sure to track how many drinks you’re having, set a limit before you go out and stick to it.  Pace yourself, on average you should only be consuming 1 drink per hour but this can vary depending on your weight, height, or gender.  Anytime you’re going out for the night plan ahead how you’re going to get home.  Get a ride from a sober driver, call a taxi, or take public transportation.  What’s most important is that you have a plan laid out and that you stick to the plan to ensure that you’ll get home safely!  Tell the people who you are going with the plan so everyone is on the same page. 

For more information about healthy decisions around drinking check out the Outreach Education page at https://my.bridgew.edu/OutreachEducation  and check out the BE SMART tips which can be accessed through this link: https://my.bridgew.edu/departments/OutreachEducation/SitePages/BE%20SMART%20Tips.aspxIf you’re interested in learning more about Outreach Education and the BSU Peer Educators you can check out our page on Facebook by searching BSUoutreacheducation, follow us on Instagram and Twitter @BSUoutreach, and check out our calendar for upcoming events at: my.bridgew.edu/OutreachEducation.


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