Oddly Enough

No New Year's toasts in sauna, Russians urged

Men sit in a mobile sauna that is mounted on a four-wheel drive truck in a forest in Barnaul in the Altai region April 5, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Andrei Kasprishin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has urged revellers celebrating the New Year in saunas Thursday night to refrain from popping open the champagne until they have left the steam houses, warning it could prove fatal.

“I would like to make the following recommendation: drink after being in the sauna, not when inside,” Interfax news agency quoted Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying on New Year’s Eve.

“Maybe this sounds funny... But many people die in saunas,” he added.

Enthusiastic sauna visitors, Russians often drink beer or vodka in the wood-panelled huts and hold alcohol-fuelled New Year’s celebrations in the thousands of steam rooms and bath houses across the country.

Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton