Sarah Gray column for Dec. 30

First Posted: 1/15/2009

Some tips on ringing in the new year safely

“May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.” — Joey Adams

Some of us will gather soon with friends or family to celebrate the beginning of the New Year. It’s important to remember that if you are hosting a New Year’s party or gathering, to keep your guests’ needs in mind. The Health Department has selected tips to help all of us “ring in” a safe and healthy new year.
Get the party started
— Encourage lively conversation and group activities, such as games that keep the focus on fun — not on alcohol.
— Prepare plenty of foods so guests will not drink alcohol on an empty stomach, and avoid too many salty foods which tend to make people thirsty.
— Never serve alcohol to someone under the legal drinking age, and never ask children to serve alcohol.
— Make it clear that no drug use will be tolerated.
If you choose to serve alcohol
— Offer a variety of non-alcoholic beverages for those who prefer not to drink alcohol. You could even have a contest to create non-alcoholic drink recipes.
— If you prepare an alcoholic punch, use a non-carbonated base, like fruit juice. Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream faster with a carbonated base.
— Don’t let guests mix their own drinks. Choose a reliable bartender, who abstains from alcohol while working and keeps track of the size and number of drinks that guests consume.
Before your guests depart
— Stop serving alcohol one hour before the party ends, because only time sobers an individual who has been drinking.
— If some guests have too much to drink, drive them home or arrange for alternate transportation.
— Keep the phone numbers of several cab companies handy.
— Don’t let anyone who is obviously intoxicated drive. If they insist, take their keys, ask for help from other guests, or temporarily disable the car. If all else fails, call the police. Remember, you can be held responsible!
Facts to remember:
— More than half of Americans are not current drinkers, so not everyone at your party will want to drink alcohol.
— Impaired driving can occur with very low blood alcohol percentages. For most people, even one drink can affect driving skills.
— Almost 40 percent of all holiday traffic fatalities involve alcohol.
— Holidays are especially dangerous because more people celebrate by over-drinking, making themselves susceptible to alcohol-related troubles.
— Coffee cannot sober up someone who has had too much to drink. Only time can do that. It takes one hour to metabolize one drink.
For information on organizing alcohol-safe and drug-free parties, contact SAMHSA’s National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-729-6686.

— Sarah Gray is the Information and Communications Director for the Robeson County Health Department. You may contact her at [email protected] or at 910-671-3442.

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