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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

SWArticle: Winter Alcohol

<ecision to drink alcohol in the winter months should incorporate a few more factors than in other periods during the year. Specifically, alcohol consumption in frigid weather conditions like those in Northfield, can be especially dangerous due to risk of frostbite or hypothermia. Below are some signs to look for and tips to keep yourself and your friends safe.

Frostbite refers to damage caused to the skin or other tissues by freezing. Symptoms include numbness, pale appearance to the skin and blistering. Fatigue, nicotine use, diabetes and infections contribute to frostbite. Caffeine, a diuretic, causes increased dehydration, which also contributes to frostbite. The best precaution is to dress warmly and minimize the amount of exposed skin.

Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the core body temperature drops to a level at which body functions are impaired. Symptoms include incoherence, disorientation, memory loss, uncontrollable shivering, drowsiness and exhaustion.

Here is where alcohol comes into play: alcohol accelerates the process of frostbite and hypothermia because it causes dilation of surface blood vessels as well as reduced blood circulation. This cools the blood and causes a decrease in body temperature, particularly in the extremities of the body. In addition, alcohol consumption impairs one’s judgment. Because alcohol can cause false feelings of warmth, a person under the influence of alcohol may not dress appropriately, notice quite how cold he or that he or she has gotten frostbite or hypothermia.

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