Tips to Have a Safe New Year's Eve

by Joanna

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Let’s keep it that way.  This, in part, means being responsible with alcohol consumption.  Parties, family gatherings, increased stress – there are a lot of reasons why people drink more during the holidays.

The increased alcohol consumption begins on “Blackout Wednesdays”, the day before Thanksgiving.  Families gather for Thanksgiving, and friends see each other for the first time in a while, in some cases.  Christmas and New Year’s follow generally with a lot of parties and social gatherings. 

As you can imagine, impaired driving also increases.  According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the percentage of highway deaths that are alcohol related almost doubles on New Year’s compared to the rest of the year.

What can you do to stay safe and drink responsibly? 

  • Know your limits – know when to say “no”
  • Limit consumption – alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Don’t drink on an empty stomach and drink plenty of water
  • Plan ahead how to get home - add contact info in your phone for cab companies, Uber, Lyft or identify a designated driver
  • If you’re expecting peer pressure, come up with a standard response as to why you are not drinking "I am not drinking tonight,” "I am the designated driver tonight," etc.
  • Remember that alcohol’s effects don’t stop when you stop

Here are some myths about the effects of alcohol according to the National Institute on Alcohol:

Myth: You can drive as long as you are not slurring your words or acting erratically.

Fact: The coordination needed for driving is compromised long before you show signs of intoxication and your reaction time is slowed. Plus, the sedative effects of alcohol increase your risk of nodding off or losing attention behind the wheel.

Myth: Drink coffee. Caffeine will sober you up.

Fact: Caffeine may help with drowsiness but not with the effects of alcohol on decision-making or coordination. The body needs time to metabolize (break down) alcohol and then to return to normal. Also, when caffeine wears off, your body will need to deal with post-caffeine sleepiness. There are no quick cures—only time will help.  

Myth: The warm feeling you get from drinking alcohol insulates you from the cold of winter. When you’re drinking, there’s no need to wear a coat when it’s cold outside.

Fact: Alcohol widens the tiny blood vessels right under the skin, so they quickly fill with warm blood. This makes you feel warm or hot, and can cause your skin to flush and perspire. But your body temperature is actually dropping, because while alcohol is pulling warmth from your core to the skin surface, it is also depressing the area of your brain that controls temperature regulation. In cold environments, this can lead to hypothermia. So, wear a coat when it’s cold outside, particularly if you are drinking alcohol.

Just like everything else, enjoy in moderation!  Practice the above tips for a fun and safe New Year’s Eve celebration!


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