On Saturday, Feb. 8, after nearly 20 hours missing, Denison student David Hallman was found dead less than a mile from the university’s campus in Granville, Ohio. It is believed that the senior succumbed to exposure to the deadly cold temperatures which were reported as cold as four degrees on the night in question. Having been last seen leaving a local bar at around 2:00 a.m. on Saturday without a coat, it is suspected that alcohol may have played a role in the young student’s death.
This event serves as a chilling reminder of the dangers of harsh winter weather that has become familiar on Wittenberg’s campus as of late. It’s the possibility of events such as the one in Granville that spur the staff of residence halls to inform residents on how to safely identify and aid those who may have consumed risky amounts of alcohol. Tools such as insight on how to identify someone who is blacked out, safe positions to put someone to bed in, and advice on when to seek out medical help is given to students who call the residence halls. The RA staff keeps an eye out for students who may have put themselves in precarious situations.
“With it being so cold out, even responsible drinkers should take a little more care to make sure they are safe,” warns Morgan Deel, an RA.
Contrary to popular belief, alcohol has no inherent body- warming properties. In actuality, alcohol has the ability to make an indulger more susceptible to the dangers of inclement winter weather dangers. When alcohol is consumed, blood vessels throughout the body are dilated, leading to an increase in blood flow to the skin. This is what creates the “beer coat” effect that makes people feel as though they are warmer in cold environments. The unfortunate truth is that, this actually does nothing in terms of providing additional heat to the body.
Additionally, with the blood flow redirected to the skin’s surface, body heat is actually lost much more rapidly as it is whisked away by the frigid air. What makes alcohol so dangerous in winter is its deceitful nature. Throwing back a few beers or taking a belt of liquor lowers body temperature while simultaneously robbing a person of the ability to feel the chilly discomfort and pain that serve as the body’s warning signs to get inside.
As the snow continues to fall in Springfield, it is important to keep in mind the potentially volatile consequences that excessive consumption can lead to.