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Majority of sauna deaths occur under influence

According to professor and doctor Lasse Viinikka, mortality statistics bear out the common sense notion that taking a sauna while very intoxicated is not a good idea. In fact, it can be deadly.

Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle

A Finnish sauna can be up to 100 degrees Celsius, with the heat emanating from a pile of hot rocks in the stove or fireplace in the corner of the often dimly-lit room. Add to that a slippery floor from the water thrown over the rocks and it's the setting for an accident waiting to happen -- especially for the very intoxicated.

Common sense would suggest that taking a sauna while drunk is not wise. But professor Lasse Viinikka, who is also a doctor and the honorary chairman of the Finnish Sauna Society, says that "the mortality statistics bear this out: tens of people die in the sauna each year (in Finland). Of those, more than half were seriously drunk at the time of their death."

Viinikka says that taking a sauna while under the influence is dangerous for other reasons; intoxication prevents the body from sensing too much heat.

Alcohol should be drunk after a sauna, he says.

“Being drunk increases the danger of accidents,” says Viinikka.

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