Be a Responsible Host this Holiday Season

December 11, 2008

We are brought together over the holiday season to celebrate with friends and family, through parties, dinners and more. Whether you are attending a social gathering or having a few people over, you or your guests may want to have a few drinks. The Canada Safety Council (CSC) wants to remind you to avoid drinking and driving.

A 2007 survey by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation found that over eight per cent of respondents had driven when they thought they were over the legal limit, at least once in the past year. Canada-wide that works out to 1.84 million drunk drivers – a very scary thought.

As a social host, you should be concerned about your guests consuming too much alcohol, and then getting behind the wheel. The CSC recommends that party hosts monitor and supervise the service and consumption of alcohol. When hosting a party, plan appropriately. This includes:

1. Either don’t drink or limit your own consumption of alcohol so you can be aware of how much your guests are drinking.

2. Know your guests – it is much easier to track the changes in behaviour of those you know. Inviting strangers increases the risk.

3. Monitor and supervise the serving of alcohol. Designate non-drinkers to do this.

4. Keep the focus off alcohol. Serve lots of food that has protein and fat – salt encourages more drinking, and sugar does not mix well with alcohol. Have plenty of non-alcoholic choices.

5. Greet all guests on arrival and departure, taking the opportunity to assess their condition.

6. If a guest appears to be impaired, encourage him or her to give you their car keys. Buddy up with a friend to persuade the intoxicated person to take a cab, or stay the night.

7. Keep the phone numbers of cab companies handy and tell the guest that a cab has been ordered. Don’t give the option to refuse.

8. If the guest appears to be impaired, keep that person with you until they are no longer impaired, or can be left in the care of a sober responsible person.

9. Only time will sober the person, not more fluids or food. Offering a spare bed is a good recourse.

10. If the person refuses to hand over the car keys or spend the night at your house, call the police. It may seem drastic, but it is far better than tragic consequences.

Taking the wheel is absolutely not an option if you think you may be impaired. Canadians should also be aware of the various services available to them if they have been drinking:

Operation Red Nose is a volunteer driving service provided during the Christmas Holiday Season to all drivers who have been drinking or who do not feel fit to drive their own vehicle back home.

Responsible Choice (in Ottawa ), is a personal chauffeur service that drives you AND your vehicle anywhere in Ottawa and its suburbs, in the event that you are unable to drive yourself due to fatigue, injury or any other impairment.

In addition, 1-888-TAXIGUY/1-888-TAXISVP (in Quebec ) is a service sponsored by Molson Canada that operates in over 700 cities and towns nationwide. The Canada Safety Council is a proud partner of this program.

On behalf of the Canada Safety Council, we wish for all Canadians to have a safe and happy holiday season!

For more information, please contact:

Valerie Powell
Communications and Media Program Coordinator
Canada Safety Council
(613) 739-1535 (ext. 228)
www.safety-council.org