Drinking alcohol for warmth.

I just watched Miracle on 34th Street, as I do every year, and at the beginning of the movie, when Mrs. Walker chastises the drunk Santa at the parade, he replies, “A guy’s gotta do something to keep warm”.

I’ve also seen alcohol being consumed for warmth in old cartoons, specifically Tom and Jerry short where a St. Bernard pours an alcoholic drink into Tom’s mouth when he’s frozen in the snow.

This got me to thinking: Where did the idea that alcohol keeps you warm when it’s cold come from? And does it really?

It dialates the blood vessels so you feel warmer in your extremeties. However this is counterproductive if you are trying stave off hypothermia.

Alcohol is a vasodilator which means that it opens up the blood vessels near the skin. The rush of warm blood to gives the impression of warming you, in the short term. However, all that warm blood near the skin will cool you off in the long term and as such is something you don’t want to do if exposed to the cold.

So, it makes you feel warm at first, then ends up making you colder.

It gives you an illusion of warmth, not actual warmth.

IIRC the st Bernard rescue dogs in the alps used to have a container of brandy around their necks; so the rescued could immediately enjoy a comforting and warming drink.
Then of course it was realized that it decreased their survival chance a smidge.

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Right. It just makes you think you are warm. It is a false feeling of comfort.

I have read that is one of the reasons the Irish turned to alcohol so often, to stave off the cold and damp, and also it could make you forget you were hungry for awhile.

Aren’t the calories real?

The calories from alcohol are real, but they don’t really nourish the cells. The fermented sugars don’t provide energy to the cells the way true carbs do.

Alcoholics that substitute alcohol for food habitually are usually in a pretty poor nutritional state.

But it will dull the brain enough that the sensations of cold and hunger are blocked temporarily. However, if a person who is inebriated falls asleep in the cold, they are in danger of never waking up and dying from hypothermia.

I think the notion that St Bernards carried a little barrel of brandy is actually a myth that arose from the imagination of a painter who painted a St Bernard rescue scene.

Much like peeing in one’s pants. And with enough alcohol, one may experience both.

Just don’t get it mixed up and drink your urine & pour alcohol on your pants. That’s for sailors, not snowbound travelers.

Also the illusion of charm, interest and of being surrounded by unusually attractive people.

Yo ho ho and a bottle of pee,
That’s the sailors’ life for me!
No Viagra for my crotch,
We’ll make do with 10 year scotch!