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What's Up with Cold Weather Myths?

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

It's that time of year where temperatures are starting to drop and a few flakes will be falling any day now if they haven't already where you live. Don't forget what your Grandma used to say "go put a coat on or you'll catch a cold."

Cold air itself doesn't have the capability to make you sick. You can only catch a cold/flu through traveling viruses. People are more susceptible to catching a cold/flu during the winter months because lower temperatures allow viruses to travel faster, and they can also weaken your immune system.

This is just one of the many common cold-weather myths...

Coffee (caffeine) and alcohol do not help keep the body warm. Once alcohol is consumed, it actually creates heat loss. Alcohol will send more blood flow to the skin which falsely makes the skin feel warmer, but the core temperature of the body actually begins to decrease when this happens. Not only that, but alcohol takes away your body's ability to shiver, which actually helps keep the body warm.

Eating snow does NOT hydrate the body. Once snow enters the body, organs must do additional work and use energy to melt the snow and turn it into a liquid. During this process, more work is being done than the amount of liquid the body receives, meaning eating snow is actually dehydrating.

Your head is not the first part of your body to lose heat, but all skin located on your body from your chest up is the most sensitive to cooler temperatures. You may feel more uncomfortable without wearing a hat, but you won't catch a cold because of it.

Wearing sunscreen is ALWAYS necessary unless you don't care about skin damage or more wrinkles. UV rays penetrate clouds and scatter through the snow on the ground because of its pure white color. It is 100% possible to get a sunburn when spending time outside in the snow-just ask those who partake in winter sports.

Just like not wearing a hat doesn't increase your chance of catching a cold, having wet hair and walking outside in the cooler months will also not make you sick. A note to my ladies, walking outside with wet hair during the winter is extremely damaging to hair. Near/below freezing temperatures and wet hair is one quick way to create hair breakage and split ends.

All these cold-weather myths fall under the umbrella of weather folklore. Although many of them are not 100% scientifically correct, following some of them will probably make you feel more comfortable during the winter months even if they are not actually keeping you "warmer" per se.

Warm (hot chocolate) wishes,

Meteorologist Jordyn Jenna

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