Holiday Party Season Safety

December 19, 2011

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 recent survey by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation found that 5.5 per cent of respondents had driven when they thought they were over the legal limit, at least once in the past year. According to the most recent statistics, in 2009, 714 Canadians were killed in a traffic crash involving a drinking driver. Although this represents a continual decline since 2006, there’s still room for improvement.

As a social host, you should be concerned about your guests consuming too much alcohol, and then getting behind the wheel. The law may even find you liable for any damage your guests cause on the way home. 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. Being a good host requires judgment and tact, and you won't have either if you are impaired.
  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.
  5. Have plenty of non-alcoholic choices. Serve a festive fruit punch or "mocktail" clearly labeled alcohol-free, along with other non-alcoholic juices, sodas and water.
  6. Greet all guests on arrival and departure, taking the opportunity to assess their condition.
  7. 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.
  8. Keep the phone numbers of cab companies handy and cash on hand for cab fares. Tell the guest that a cab has been ordered. Don’t give the option to refuse.
  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.

Regardless of whether you are a guest or you have guests, make sure everyone has a safe ride home. Don’t drink and drive. Call a cab, call Operation Red Nose, Responsible Choice (Ottawa), or 1-888-TAXIGUY/1-888-TAXISVP (Quebec), or have a predetermined designated driver, to ensure a safe trip home.

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

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For more information, please contact:
Communications/Media Coordinator
(613) 739-1535 (ext. 228)