FACT CHECK: Bathing, drinking cold water safe in hot weather


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FACT CHECK: Bathing, drinking cold water safe in hot weather
The Department of Health already addressed these misconceptions in a media forum in 2023

Claim: A person exposed to hot weather should wait 30 minutes before bathing or washing body parts exposed to heat. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The Facebook reel containing the claim has 14,400 reactions, 398 comments, and 12,000 shares as of writing. 

The video lists things a person should do during a heat wave. Among its reminders: “Kapag umabot ang temperatura ng 38°C at galing ka sa labas, huwag kaagad maghugas ng kamay o paa, wag maghilamos o basain ang bahaging nabilad sa araw. Magpalipas ng di bababa sa 30 minuto o kalahating oras bago maghilamos o maligo.”

(When the temperature reaches 38° and you are coming from outdoors, do not immediately wash your hands, feet, face, or body parts exposed to the sun. Wait for at least 30 minutes or half an hour before washing or bathing.)

The video also cautioned against drinking cold water immediately when the temperature reaches 40° as this can supposedly make small blood vessels burst. 

The facts: The Department of Health (DOH) already debunked these claims in a media forum last year. 

In March 2023, then-DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire clarified that bathing is the most effective way to cool down a person exposed to heat. 

Iyong bawal na maligo o bawal na dampian ng tubig for about 30 minutes, that is not true. Ang ginagawa nga po natin…kino-cool down natin ang kaniyang katawan. And ang most effective po diyan ay mabigyan natin ng shower iyong pasyente, basta conscious siya,” Vergeire said, addressing myths circulating online on the dos and don’ts during a heat wave. 

(It is not true that [a person] cannot bathe or be exposed to water for about 30 minutes. What we are doing is cooling down the body. And the most effective way to do it is to give the patient a shower, as long as he is conscious.)

Vergeire also clarified that a person exposed to heat can drink cold water depending on one’s condition. A person who is conscious can safely sip cold water, while an unconscious person should not be forced to drink water as it may cause the person to choke. However, Vergeire noted that suddenly drinking cold water after heat exposure could cause headaches due to temperature changes. 


Recurring claim: Similar claims have been debunked by Philstar, VERA Files, and ABS-CBN

In the 2021 VERA Files fact check, neurologist Jose Paciano Reyes of the Philippine Neurological Association explained that instead of exploding as the misleading Facebook video claims, “the physiologic response to cold exposure causes skin blood vessels to constrict to conserve heat.” 

The neurologist added that the sudden immersion of the body in cold water can cause “cold shock,” causing people to experience loss of breathing control, constriction of blood vessels, and an increase in blood pressure. While drinking and bathing with cold water is safe for healthy individuals, those with cardiac disease should exercise caution as the increase in blood pressure may “increase the chances of a heart attack and stroke in susceptible individuals,” according to Reyes.

Extreme temperatures: The Philippines’ warm and dry season, or what Filipinos often call “summer,” began on March 22. This season usually lasts until May, with temperatures expected to rise. In recent weeks, the DOH advised the public to take precautions as high heat index levels could lead to heat-related illnesses. – Ailla Dela Cruz/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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