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Commentary: Think safety when entertaining this season

The winter holidays are a time to enjoy the company of family, friends and coworkers. Whether you are planning a dinner, informal gathering or holiday party, your job as host is very important. Your many responsibilities include planning the menu or catering and organizing entertainment.

However, some of the most crucial details can be overlooked in all of the frenzy. Perhaps your most important responsibility as host for a party is to take steps to ensure your guests’ safety both during and after the celebration.

Drinking and driving is an all too familiar and tragic combination. More people are on the road, and they also are consuming alcohol as a part of their holiday celebrations. Statistics like the ones highlighted below remind us how important it is to plan an event where non-alcoholic beverages and alternative transportation options are available.

•One person is killed every half-hour due to drunken driving.

•Each year approximately 16,000 are killed in alcohol related crashes.

•Alcohol is a factor in almost half of all traffic fatalities.

•Every other minute a person is seriously injured in an alcohol related crash.

Following are some tips to having a fun and safe holiday celebration:

•At your family gatherings, offer plenty of nonalcoholic foods, drinks, and activities.

•Keep a close eye on children that attend gatherings and ensure that they do not have access to alcoholic beverages

•To lower the risk of alcohol poisoning, be sure to throw out partly empty alcoholic drinks. Children love to imitate adults, and if they have access to leftover drinks, they may taste the contents.

•Have a plan in place about what you and your family will do if you are at a party where there are people who have had too much to drink.

•Remember that kids look up to adults and watch them closely. You are their role model!

•Remember that allowing anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcoholic beverages is against the law. Do NOT be a social host!

We also encourage everyone to secure and monitor medications as kids, as well as adults are accessing these drugs in the comfort of home; it can be as easy as opening a cupboard, drawer or medicine cabinet.

The good news: There are steps you can take to help protect your kids from prescription drug abuse.

Before the holidays, go through your medicine cabinets and properly dispose of any outdated and unneeded medicines.

Now supported by Mayo Clinic Health System, Goodhue County has four drop-off locations available to our residents:

Red Wing

Goodhue County Law Enforcement Center

430 W. Sixth St.

Available 24 hours inside the first set of doors.


Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office

401 Main St.

Available 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays

Cannon Falls

Cannon Falls Police Department

918 River Road

Available 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays


Zumbrota Police Department

50 W. Second St

Available 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays

Make sure that any other needed medications are stored in a safe, secure location and monitor closely. More information on the S.A.F.E. program can be found by visiting the CHI website at

The Red Wing Chemical Health Initiative Council wishes you and your families and wonderful and safe holiday season.

Together we can keep our kids, families and communities safe.

Julie Hatch is executive director of the Goodhue County Chemical Health Initiative.