New Year's Freeze: Alcohol will not warm you up in frigid temperatures

CREATED Dec 31, 2013

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MILWAUKEE -- Holiday cheer might warm you soul, but don't count on that to battle sub-zero temperatures.

The new year arrives Tuesday night with a wallop of arctic air, pushing temperatures into the teens and wind chills below zero.

Before you grab some champagne, however, emergency personnel are warning those celebrating that alcohol does not warm your body.

The New York Times compiled studies that found alcohol actually decreases core body temperature — regardless of the temperature outside — and increases the risk of hypothermia.

Alcohol reverses the normal body process in the cold, increasing the flow of blood to the skin and setting off a sharp drop in body temperature (this is why you feel a warming sensation while drinking).

The Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine reports that could mean a reduced ability to shiver, which is one of the body's prime ways to alert you to seek protection.

So as you head out tonight for New Year's Eve, remember that a drink does not enable you to forego the jacket, scarves, gloves and hats walking to the bar or club and taking a smoking break. Doctors warn that alcohol can play a role in hypothermia-related injuries and deaths.