You've probably been told that you must wear a hat in the winter, cold weather will make you sick and you should always warm up your car before you drive. However, these things aren't necessarily true. Read on to find out the real answers.
You lose most of your body heat through your head. False.
Your head only accounts for only 10% of your total body surface and that's exactly how much body heat you lose from your head. However, even 10% can make a big difference when it is very cold outside. It's never a bad idea to wear a hat.
A little nip of alcohol can help keep you warm. False.
Alcohol opens up blood vessels in your skin and that encourages loss of heat from your skin. Alcohol also lowers your core temperature and decreases your sensitivity to cold, which in turn reduces the shivering process and deprives your body of extra heat.
A hot drink will warm you up faster than a cold drink. False.
It may help you psychologically, but in reality, a hot drink will make you sweat. And when that sweat evaporates, your body cools down. Also, you must drink to maximize internal heat production and it is almost impossible to drink enough hot liquid to raise the temperature of your body's core. You can drink cool water much faster.
You have to dress in layers to keep warm. False.
Dressing in layers makes sense if the temperature is likely to change or your activity level might change. However, layers are not required. One warm, well-made garment can work just as well as layers. It's often a matter of preference.
Gloves are better than mittens. False.
Mittens will actually keep your hands warmer because your fingers benefit from their collective warmth and get cold more easily when isolated. Whenever dexterity isn't critical, wear mittens instead of gloves.
Cold weather will make you sick. False.
Cold weather itself won't make you sick. However, people tend to spend more time indoors when it is cold and it's easier to exchange germs when you are in a confined space with more people. Also, cold weather can dry out nasal passages, limiting the body's ability to filter out infections.
You can't go outside with wet hair in the cold. False.
Wet hair or being wet won't increase your chances of becoming ill. However, if you become overly cold, it will affect your immune system and that will increase your chance of getting sick.
If you're stranded and thirsty, you should eat snow. False.
Eating snow or sucking on ice will lower your body temperature. If you don't have any water, you need to try to melt the snow or ice before consuming it. Try putting it in a plastic bag between your clothing layers (not directly against your skin). Ice melts more quicly that the same volume of snow.
You don't need sunscreen in the winter. False.
You may be more covered in the winter, but the skin that is exposed still needs to be protected. The earth is physically closer to the sun in the winter and snow and ice can reflect damaging UV rays, giving your skin a double dose.
If I'm cold, you must be cold. False.
There are many factors that determine when a person feels cold -- age, gender, fitness level, and acclimatization. For example, women generally feel cold before men. Older people generally feel cold before a younger person does.
Animals with fur don't get cold. False.
If it is too cold for you, it is probably too cold for pets and animals. If they are used to living indoors, then make sure they properly dressed (yes, put a sweater/covering on them) and their paws are protected when they are outside. If they live outside, make sure they have proper shelter with a heat source and feed them more in the winter.
Warming up your car before driving in cold weather can damage the engine. True.
Most vehicles built after 1980 do not need to warm up before driving. Experts say driving after 30 seconds to a minute after starting your car is best practice.