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Are You Believing Some Cold Weather Myths?

CBS New York (con't)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — So how do you stay safe in these frigid temperatures — aside from staying inside of course?

As CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, a lot of advice you’ve gotten from people like your mom is a myth.

Alcohol will warm you up.

True, alcohol makes you feel warmer. That’s because alcohol opens up the blood vessels in your skin. Think of drunks with rosy cheeks and noses. You feel warmer but, in fact, you’re losing more heat through your skin, so alcohol actually speeds up heat loss — exactly the opposite of what you want.

Being out in the cold or going outside with wet hair will get you sick.

Cold weather does not cause colds. Bacteria and viruses do. We get more colds in the winter because we spend more time cooped up indoors with germy people who spread their colds. And overheated indoor air dries out your nasal passages, which can make it easier for viruses to invade and infect.

As for wet hair, same myth. You’ll be uncomfortable with wet hair — it might even freeze in the cold weather — but it’s not going to make you any more susceptible to colds and flu.

You’ll lose most of your heat through your head.

This one is actually both true and false. People who call this a myth tend to think this means you only lose heat from your head. Obviously, you radiate heat from your entire body, but since your body is usually well covered and your head and neck are not, you’re going to lose heat from your head.

That’s also because your body will shunt blood away from your skin to keep your core body temperature up. That’s why your fingers and toes get cold first. They have more surface area to lose heat from, and there’s less warm blood going there when it’s cold. But the body will also protect your brain at all costs, keeping warm blood flowing there. So you lose heat from your head, especially if you’re missing a lot of of your follicles. Myth or not, it’s a good idea to wear a hat.

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