New Year’s celebrations: Drinking safety

New Year’s Eve can be a fun celebration, but if you plan to make alcohol a part of your festivities, be sure that you plan in advance to ensure you don’t endanger yourself or others. Here are some tips for alcohol safety – we’ve posted some of them previously.

A good rule of thumb is that your body can only process about one drink per hour. While that may vary a bit based on weight and gender, it’s a fairly good rule to keep in mind. But 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. A martini or other mixed cocktail generally contains more than one shot.

The Blood Alcohol Calculator will help you estimate your impairment level per drink and tell you if you are “legal” in a given state. 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.

This page includes some handy alcohol impairment 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.

There are also some smart phone apps for tracking BAC, but we haven’t used any of these so we can’t vouch for them.

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. Or call an Uber or a Lyft.
  • 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
Posted in Safety