5 cold weather myths you shouldn’t believe
By Luke Rix-Standing. Published 2021-01-07BOLD-Living
We take a look at some of the soundbites that so often accompany the winter season
1. Drinking alcohol warms you upThe so-called ‘beer jacket’ may make you feel like you’ve donned a few extra layers, but it does so by drawing your body heat to the surface and away from your core.You’ll seem warmer but be colder, and alcohol education charity Drinkaware advises that drunkenly stumbling home on an icy Winter’s night can put you at risk of hypothermia, and even death. Wrap up warm, drink in moderation, and enjoy a frostbite-free evening.
2. Warm up with a nice hot bathOk, this one does depend just how cold you’re feeling. If it’s just that your heating is a degree or two below optimum then fill up the tub and plunge in. But if the conditions are sub-arctic and you’ve headed out under-dressed then you may need to warm up gradually.Moving too quickly between extremes of temperature causes rapid changes in your blood flow, which can lead to dizziness and a loss of consciousness – deeply inexpedient when in the bath.
3. You lose most heat through your headScientists have traced this myth to a US Army Survival Manual from the 1970s which claims that the head accounts for ’40-45%’ of all heat loss. This, they point out, is patently nonsense, as it would mean that not wearing a hat would have roughly the same effect as not wearing any trousers.In reality, one part of the body loses about as much heat as any other, and a person in swimming shorts would lose only about 10% off the top. By all means enjoy the comfort of that fluffy bobble hat, just remember to wear gloves, proper footwear, and a shirt as well.One point to note – for young children the head really is a primary heat-loser. Infants have disproportionately large noggins, so a hatless child is exposing a much greater percentage of total surface area.
4. Cold weather directly makes you sickA straightforward truth underlies this one: Germs make you sick, not temperature.Though illnesses are undoubtedly more common from December through to February, the cold itself is almost certainly not the reason. Instead, environmental factors accompanying cold weather must bear the brunt of the blame – some studies even conclude that it is the dry conditions created by central heating that allow viruses to go forth and multiply.
5. You can skip the sunscreenWe can totally see how this one happens. On holiday in Italy with the July sun beating down through a cloudless sky, every man and his dog knows you need to lather on the lotion. But in the UK in mid-February? It just feels instinctively wrong.In actuality your skin produces less melanin in Winter, leaving it more vulnerable to UV radiation, while snow and ice can reflect up to 80% of the sun’s rays. Sadly sunburn is not seasonal, and your skin can feel the effects any month of the year, so invest in a good moisturiser with SPF.
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