Life in Poland

That’s So Polish: The Killer Draft

While many of us have heard (or may believe) that drafts can cause colds, it is only in Poland that I learned drafts can kill.

I would laugh it off as an individual’s idiosyncrasy except that I have heard it many times from many different people. The stories are usually about my friend’s sister’s neighbor’s cousin’s uncle’s baby who died because of a draft. While horrible as that story may be (and I don’t recommend putting babies to sleep under open windows), a draft alone will not do you in.

I decided to investigate the situation and according to Google, the source of all my health information, long-term and repeated exposure to drafts can make you more susceptible to illness, but the draft in and of itself does not make you sick.

I also think we should clarify what we mean by draft. A draft in my opinion is a cold, unpleasant blow of air usually from an open window or door or in an old house. A draft “po polsku” seems to be any movement of air when you have 2 or more windows open in your home. Draft is przeciąg in Polish not to be confused with pociąg which is something else entirely.

So drafts do not cause colds. There is no medical reason why I cannot open windows in all the rooms of my home simultaneously. In my opinion, stuffy is not better than drafty and so far (knock on wood or unpainted wood as it is in Polish), no one in our family has been the victim of a deadly draft. Scratch that. My mother-in-law’s window slammed shut and broke after an unfortunate draft incident. Don’t ask, it was all Dziadek’s fault.

On a side note, depending on who you talk to you shouldn’t eat ice cream or drink cold drinks when the weather is too cold or…..too hot for that matter. Yes, I have heard it both ways.

And apparently, if you eat a lot of rich foods your liver will hurt.

And a cure for bladder and kidney ailments is warm underwear (not antibiotics).

And vodka kills germs (this one is probably true).

Na zdrowie!

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  • Reply
    June 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Chris, you crack me up:))) And hell YES przeciag may kill:))) I remember when I had my baby, my mother in law was laying on the floor at the balcony door trying to prove there is przeciag. All the windows were shut it was first days of March, and you know how March weather could be in Poland. If I only listen to this woman I would cook my kid:)stardust

  • Reply
    Marek Cyzio
    June 1, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I think you should add that both przeciąg and pociąg can kill. And a strong przeciąg can kill more people than a fast pociąg as people in Joplin learned.

  • Reply
    June 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Przeciag sounds better than draft – don't you think? I don't think przeciag can kill but as a Polish mother:), I don't like when somebody goes outside in the cold weather with wet hair:)My mom was always shocked when my husband drank his coke with ice during winter. I don't like it when he drinks water with ice when he has sore throat. You have to drink hot tea with honey when you are sick:) \”The Polish witchcraft\” – as my Polish friend's American husband calls it.

  • Reply
    Lois B
    June 1, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    OMG, too funny. My late father-in-law always said said cold weather will give you \”the earache.\”

  • Reply
    June 2, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I love it. Thank you for writing this. My wife and I have been laughing and mocking this ridiculous homespun philosophy as well – I almost couldn't believe your headline because we too have been calling it 'the killer draft.' As soon as you notice a lovely cooling breeze, exchanging muggy germ ridden air for fresh molecules, some babcia shrieks that the draft will kill the children and closes the windows. The most amazing is when you step into a hot, un-air-conditioned tram, and people are happily sitting there with sweat running into their eyes with the windows closed. This afternoon I opened the skylights and windows on my tram car, and later the same ride callously ignored a babcia who was trying to close the window next to her seat. If she's cold she can put a sweater and hat on.

  • Reply
    June 2, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Stardust – I take full credit of cracking you up 🙂 although I think you were a little cracked to begin with ;)Marek – So true about Joplin.Kasia – My old boss didn't want to allow one of our co-worker to have a sick day (L4) because he had seen her eating ice cream. It means she made herself ill on purpose.Lois B- My father says things like that, not cancer but \”the cancer\”. He also adds an \”s\” to store names – \”I am going to Walmarts\” or even better \”the Walmarts\”.Kolin – For a second were you freaking out that I was spying on you? Just today my student closed all windows and doors in her beautifully breezy office saying there was a draft. She then switched on the AC. Way better.Chris

  • Reply
    June 2, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    only yesterday my mom commented on a child standing in the doorway. it was too drafty…b.

  • Reply
    D A
    June 5, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    The (in-)famous przeciąg is one of two highways leading straight to the grave, ciśnienie (air pressure) being the other. ;)Ach! Who needs six years of med school when you can just talk to a Pole for six minutes? 😀

  • Reply
    Jon and Jenny, Alex, Jonah, and Isaac,
    July 6, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Poland is not alone in these myths. I live in Ukraine and these and many other fun sweltering medical words of wisdom are still alive and kicking. What's hilarious is that while the drafts can kill, polar bearing in the Dnipor in January is good for health.

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