Keep the season's merry-making safeThe winter holidays are a time to enjoy the company of family, friends and coworkers.
By: Stacy Larson, The Republican Eagle
The winter holidays are a time to enjoy the company of family, friends and coworkers.
Whether planning a dinner, informal gathering or holiday party, a host’s job is extremely important. Their many responsibilities include planning the menu and organizing entertainment.
However, some of the most crucial details can be overlooked in all of the frenzy. Perhaps the most important responsibility as host for a party is to take steps to ensure guests’ safety both during and after the celebration. This means planning an event where some non-alcoholic beverages are served and alternative transportation options are available for those who choose to enjoy alcoholic drinks instead.
Drinking and driving is an all too familiar and tragic combination. Holiday get-togethers mean more people will be driving, whether on gravel back roads or fast-paced highways. Those same get-togethers also tend to mean a higher consumption of alcohol as families and friends join in celebratory toasts.
Statistics such as those that follow show exactly how important it is to make sure those attending parties or gatherings only get behind the wheel when they’re sober — for the sake of their safety and the safety of other drivers.
• One person is killed every half hour because of drunken driving;
• Each year, approximately 16,000 people are killed in alcohol-related crashes;
• Alcohol is a factor in almost half of all traffic fatalities;
• Every other minute, one person is seriously injured in an alcohol-related crash.
Many statistics stretch nationwide, but that doesn’t mean they don’t hit close to home as well. Since the beginning of 2012, the Red Wing Police Department has arrested 128 DWI offenders and has cited more than 100 individuals for illegal consumption, or underage drinking.
Help prevent problems
The numbers are frightening, but also largely preventable.
For example, drinking can easily be kept under control if a family gathering offers plenty of non-alcoholic foods, drinks and activities.
Any alcohol that is on hand should be kept where children do not have access because they often times like to imitate adults, meaning they may consider tasting leftover drinks that are just sitting around. To lower the risk of alcohol poisoning, partially empty alcoholic drinks should be thrown out.
If a family is not hosting a party, but rather attending one where there are people who have had too much to drink, parents should have a plan in place regarding how to handle the situation.
Lastly, it’s important for people to remember that allowing anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcoholic beverages is against the law.
At a time when large families come together, it can be hard to keep an eye on all of the children at once. Not only can they find their way into alcohol cabinets, but medicine cabinets as well.
The good news is there are steps adults can take to protect their children from prescription drug abuse.
First, the Goodhue County Chemical Health Initiative encourages everyone to secure and monitor their medications. Second, any drugs that are outdated or unneeded should be properly thrown out. Goodhue County offers the following drop-off locations for safe drug disposal:
• Goodhue County Law Enforcement Center lobby, 430 W. Sixth St., Red Wing. Available 24 hours.
• Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office, 401 Main St., Wanamingo. Available 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
• Cannon Falls Police Department foyer, 918 River Road, Cannon Falls. Available 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
• Zumbrota Police Department foyer, 50 W. Second St., Zumbrota. Available 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.