Monday, December 5, 2011

Man Survives Three Days in Ice and Snow on Frozen Beer

The man became stranded in a snow drift 40 miles outside Nome, Alaska. (Story here).
Uncharacteristically unprepared for the situation, he was wearing jeans and a thin coat – not protective enough to dig himself out of the snow without getting frostbite.
He also had no food or water, other than three cans of beer.

While beer can be an important source of energy (beer was part of the food rations paid to workers in ancient Egypt) drinking alcohol is actually dangerous in cold weather survival situations. From
Alcohol has a reputation for warming us up on cold days because it makes us feel warmer when we drink it.

Alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate, which shifts blood flow to the surface of the skin where nerve endings respond to changes in temperature. A gallon of 99-degree blood flowing past our natural thermometers makes us feel all warm and cozy. (Anyone who's sipped hot toddies by the fire knows that feeling.)

Unfortunately, when we're skiing in snow and we take a sip of brandy to give us a warm little pick-me-up, we aren't heating anything at all. Instead, we're letting more blood flow past the surface of the skin, where the cold outside air is able to steal a little bit more heat from our core.

Thanks to the brandy, we're actually getting colder, not warmer.

Alcohol does nothing to warm us up and is a quick way to get hypothermia in a cold environment.
For LDS readers, this is obviously another benefit to following the Word of Wisdom.

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