Snow is just frozen water, right? So when out in the cold and in need of a drink, it should be safe to take a scoop to quench your thirst? We have all been there while exploring a winter wonderland; there’s the temptation to ease thirst by using what is, essentially, water settled on the ground. However, doing so can be dangerous and may result in the need for a travel accident compensation claim.
Why could using snow to rehydrate result in a holiday mishap?
There are actually multiple dangers from eating snow, ranging from serious illnesses to infections that can leave you wishing you made the short trip to the tap for some clean running water.
One thing to consider is that the snow you are walking on may have been on the ground for some time. As a result, it is likely to have picked up some harmful bacteria, which will be entering your system the moment the icy substance passes your lips. Although it may look pure and clean, snow can harbour all sorts of foreign bodies that may have been passed on from animals, spilled fluids or transported to the area via other humans passing through.
Along with the previously aforementioned dangers, there is also the risk of developing hypothermia as ingesting a cold substance can dramatically reduce your body’s core temperature. Typically, our bodies maintain a temperature in the region of 36°C, as this is the necessary conditions to allow our metabolism to function correctly. A drop in this figure can inhibit enzymes, preventing our bodies from performing the tasks needed to function. One or two scoops of snow are unlikely to have too dramatic of an effect, but constant shovelling of an extremely cold substance can have a massive impact.
How can I avoid a holiday illness from snow?
- Carry bottled water – If you are going on a particularly long trip in the snow, take adequate supplies of clean water. This will prevent the temptation to eat snow to rehydrate and avoid a vacation mishap.
- Only as a last resort – If you absolutely have to use snow to rehydrate, it’s best to melt the substance before treating it to make it safe for consumption. This may be a tricky task, but it’s the only way to guarantee that you will be absolutely safe.
- Avoid visibly dirty snow – As a rule, if the snow is discoloured don’t even consider using it as a form of rehydration.