Have a happy New Year: Plan to party safely


Have fun this New Year’s Eve, but be careful! It’s a good idea to plan in advance for your safety – and that of your friends and family.
As a rule of thumb, you should consume only one drink or less per hour. Effects will vary based on a person’s body weight and body chemistry. Plus, alcohol has a cumulative effect so how many drinks you consume over how many hours has an effect. In general, your body can only metabolize about one drink per hour. And be careful about how you define “one drink” – this equates to 12-ounces of beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine, or one shot (one ounce) of 80 proof alcohol.

The Blood Alcohol Calculator from the Police Notebook will estimate your impairment level and tell you if you are “legal.” The calculator works by giving an estimate of your “blood alcohol count” (BAC) or the ratio of alcohol to blood in your system. Enter the type of drink, how many drinks you consumed/plan to consume, your weight, and the amount of time you have been/will be drinking. This will produce an estimated BAC, and will tell you if you are impaired and at risk of arrest should you be stopped by police.

The site also includes some handy reference charts for men and for women, and charts that describe the type of impairment that people experience at various BAC levels. There are also a list of common myths and suggestions for how to get car keys away from an intoxicated person.

If you are out on New Year’s Eve, have an advance strategy to ensure your safety:

  • Plan for a designated driver.
  • Plan to sleep over.
  • Look for a Tipsy Taxi service in your area. Many communities sponsor a free taxi service that can be called to get a ride home. You can call a local police department to see if there are any operating in your community.
  • Drink non alcoholic beverages.
  • Have one or two drinks early in the evening and switch to non-alcoholic beverages for a few hours before you drive home.

If you are hosting a party, take your responsibilities seriously. You would never forgive yourself if a guest were injured or killed – or killed another driver – after leaving your house. Plus, you might have either criminal or civil liability for any accident ensuing from intoxication that occurred at your home. Here is a good Responsible Party Host Tip Sheet (PDF) to help you plan a safe party.

And one final note of caution:
People can and do die from alcohol poisoning when they consume more alcohol than their body can safely process in a short period of time. Tragically, many young people succumb to alcohol poisoning every year due to ignorance about the facts of excess alcohol intake. Call 9-1-1 if you see someone exhibiting behavior that might indicate alcohol poisoning, evidenced by any of the following symptoms:

  • Cold, clammy, pale or bluish skin
  • Unconscious or unable to be roused
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Puking repeatedly or uncontrollably

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Picks for 2012 Autos


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has announced its Top Vehicle Safety Picks for 2012. There are 18 new picks for a total of 115 winners in the following categories: 69 cars, 38 SUVs, 5 minivans, and 3 pickups. The award recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, rollover, and rear crashes based on ratings in Institute evaluations. The ratings, which cover all 4 of the most common kinds of crashes, help shoppers pick vehicles that offer the highest levels of crash protection.
Here’s a handy list of the 2012 Top Safety Picks with links to the ratings.
If you will be shopping for a new vehicle, you may also want to consult this list: Insurance Losses by Make & Model. And you will also want to talk to your local insurance agent.

Have you watered your Christmas tree today?


If not, go do it now. Really! Here’s dramatic evidence of how flammable a dry Christmas tree can be as opposed to a tree that is watered regularly. This test was conducted by the National Fire Protection Association and Underwriters Laboratories.

Indoor holiday decorating safety tips


Earlier in the week, we talked about electrical safety for outdoor holiday decorations. We’ll wrap up the week with some tips on inddor holiday decorating safety from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Trees & Decorations

  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” Although this label does not mean the tree won’t catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water.
  • Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.

Lights

  • Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, which indicates conformance with safety standards. Use only lights that have fused plugs.
  • Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets. Always replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs.
  • Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Make sure the extension cord is rated for the intended use.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks. Or, run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores).
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
  • For added electric shock protection, plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified electrician.

Decorations

  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children who could swallow or inhale small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
  • Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass “angel hair.” Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.

Fireplaces

  • Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.