Frosty New Year's Eve not discouraging event organizers

With a frostbite advisory in place for New Year’s Eve in Ottawa, event organizers are summoning the Canadian spirit (and the lure of the bar) to encourage revellers to not stay home.

Health officials warn of the risky mix alcohol and the cold

Event organizers say they'll be able to help revelers deal with the cold Dec. 31. 2:09

With a frostbite advisory in place for New Year’s Eve in Ottawa, event organizers are summoning the Canadian spirit (and lure of the bar) to encourage revellers to not stay home.

The City of Ottawa’s frostbite advisory remains in effect until Friday, with a forecasted high of –14 C during the day Tuesday and a forecasted low of –21 C overnight, without the wind chill.

Adding on the wind chill, Environment Canada said it felt like –27 C outside at 11:30 a.m. ET in Ottawa.

Ottawa Public Health says to avoid frostbite, stay indoors when possible.

They also recommend layering up socks, gloves and/or mittens and sweaters, and suggest people should refrain from drinking alcohol — which narrows blood vessels and can speed frostbite and hypothermia along.

"A lot of people think alcohol warms you up, when in fact it doesn't do that," said Ottawa Public Health nurse Frances Venne.

"The alcohol makes the blood flow close to the surface of the skin so that the heat in the blood is taken away from your core. (This means) your vital organs are not as warm as you think they would be and that can make it very dangerous."

Medical experts recommend having three to four drinks maximum, dressing in layers and keeping time outside to a minimum when facing very cold temperatures.

Big New Year's parties happening inside and out

Organizers of some of Ottawa’s biggest New Year’s Eve parties said Monday they’re confident people will be able to stay warm at their events.

“The weather might play a factor, but all of our pubs and restaurants are open and we're encouraging people to come down,” said Les Gange, head of the Sparks Street BIA, which is hoping to best last year’s 20,000-person turnout at their event.

“If they get a little cool, they can come inside. But there's lots of people, body heat, hugging — lots to keep them warm down here.”

Workers prepare the stage at Ottawa's Hogmanay event at City Hall on Monday. (CBC)

“It's Canada. It's winter. It's going to be cold. Wrap up,” said John Ivison, executive director of the Scottish Society of Ottawa, whose Hogmanay party happens at City Hall.

“We've got an indoor bar, we've got a heated outdoor bar… So there are plenty of places to go and take the chill off, have a drink, and come back out again.”

If you're looking for a dry event, councillor Rick Chiarelli's annual family-friendly New Year's Eve party begins at 6 p.m. at the Centrepointe Theatre.

"It's a good thing for parents to bring their kids to and make them realize there are other alternatives (to drinking)," Chiarelli said.

The cold temperatures will continue to start 2014, with a wind chill of –30 C forecasted for Wednesday and high temperatures not rising above the minus-teens until Saturday in Ottawa.


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