If the champagne will be flowing at your New Year’s Eve bash, are you prepared for a guest who has too much to drink?
Being a good host used to mean merely making sure your guests had enough to eat and drink and had a good time. Today it means being a responsible host and, in some cases, a liable one. Many states have social host liability laws, under which a party holder can be held legally liable if a guest becomes drunk, gets behind the wheel and injures someone.
New Year’s is often the most deadly drunk-driving holiday of the year. During the past two New Year’s holidays, 63 percent of all highway deaths were alcohol-related, according to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD).
If you’re having a New Year’s party, MADD recommends you serve nonalcoholic drinks for those who prefer not to drink alcoholic ones and you have plenty of food on hand so guests won’t drink on empty stomachs. Also, consider having someone serve as bartender to better monitor guests’ liquor consumption.
Also, MADD recommends asking guests to appoint a designated driver before the evening begins to make sure those who are driving won’t be drinking at the party.
But what happens when a guest becomes drunk, despite your best intentions? There is no way to sober someone up quickly. It takes about one hour for the body to metabolize each drink, according to MADD. Drinking black coffee won’t sober someone up, but it is a good idea to serve a snack with some nonalcoholic beverage before guests leave. The food and time required to eat can help reduce the effects of alcohol.
Whatever you do – whether it is allowing the intoxicated guest to sleep it off until sober enough to drive home safely, asking someone else to drive or hiring a taxi – do not let your guest drive drunk.
Sometimes that isn’t so easy if your guest insists he’s OK to drive. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and The Advertising Council’s Innocent Victims public service campaign offer some helpful tips and advice on how hosts can get the keys away from a drunk driver:
- If it is a close friend, try and use a soft, understated approach at first. Suggest to your friend that he or she has had too much to drink and it would be better if someone else drove or to take a cab.
- Be calm. Joke about it. Make light of it.
- Try to make it sound like you are doing your friend a favor.
- If it is somebody you don’t know well, speak to the friends and have them make an attempt to persuade the guest to hand over the keys. Usually, the individual will listen.
- If it’s a good friend, spouse or significant other, tell that person that if he or she insists on driving, you are not coming along. Suggest that you will call someone else for a ride, take a cab or walk home.
- Find your friend’s or spouse’s keys while he or she is preoccupied, and take them away. Most likely, your guest will think the keys are lost and will be forced to find another mode of transportation.
- If possible, avoid embarrassing the person or being confrontational, particularly when dealing with men. This makes them appear vulnerable to alcohol and its effects.
The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information provides an online guide for helping men and women know their drinking limits. In 1999, Texas became the 17th state to strengthen the legal definition of drunk driving from 0.10 blood alcohol content to 0.08.
Work has been hard, but you can manage it. Suddenly one day you are short of breath or your chest is tight. You need to break more frequently. You-and your coworkers-notice that you are no longer whistling while you work. You are wheezing. You go to the doctor and find out you have asthma.
You are not alone. About 11 million workers in the United States are exposed daily to airborne agents that can cause asthma. As many as 600,000 people in the United States have work-related asthma.
There are two types of occupational asthma. Irritant-induced asthma occurs abruptly after exposure. Immunological asthma, on the other hand, occurs after long-term sensitization. Asthmatics tend to get irritant-induced asthma, while non-asthmatics tend to develop respiratory difficulty after years of exposure.
Occupational asthma is most common in industries with high levels of airborne particles, even where exposure protection is provided.
In fact, the problem of work-related asthma often occurs in settings where both the employer and employees make every effort to keep respiratory hazards to a minimum. Thus, wheezing or other asthma-related symptoms come on unexpectedly, requiring some investigation after the obvious (a spill or other accident) is ruled out.
High-risk industries include working in plastics, metals and baked goods, and milling, farming, grain elevator operation and laboratory work.
Whether you already have asthma or not, something can be done for wheezing at work. Labored breathing is not in your job description. Consider these possibilities:
- Job change within the same factory. You may be working in a different part of the manufacturing plant where exposures or levels of exposures to certain particles are higher than your prior location.
- Different threshold. The upper limit for you to develop reactive airways (asthma) may be lower than someone else. This is true even among asthmatics as well as with people who have never wheezed in their life.
- Watch your technique. If you are starting a new task, particularly in a job where a lot of dust is kicked up, get training, or a refresher course, on how to minimize exposure to dusts.
- Check your equipment. Make sure the respirator or other protective gear and clothing are all up to date and functioning properly.
Whether your asthma is getting worse or you are wheezing for the first time, do not delay seeing a doctor. Even if the cause is not determined, and even if you are fine the next day, you need to be seen, properly diagnosed and treated. Wheezing, even minor, is a serious symptom. There is no such thing as “a touch of asthma.” A little annoying cough today may turn into a life-threatening asthma attack tomorrow.
Summertime is a season for weddings and, unfortunately, for allergies, too. It’s a miserable thought, but for plenty of brides and grooms, “here comes the bride” also means here comes the sneezing, watery eyes and runny nose.
If you have allergies, however, you don’t have to let the symptoms interfere with your wedding day. Follow these tips provided by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) to help control your allergies and feel your best on the big day.
- If you are still in the initial stages of planning your wedding and have allergies, you may not want to pick a date in the peak of the allergy season that triggers you or your guests’ symptoms. Ragweed, which is the most offending plant for people with allergies, begins to pollinate in the middle of August.
- Use large, bright-colored flowers such as roses, daffodils, or daisies to decorate, as these usually do not trigger allergies. They have large, waxy pollens too heavy to be carried about. Or, use dried or silk flowers as an alternative.
- If you know you have allergies, visit an allergist ahead of time to find out what you are allergic to, and to receive a prescription for a non-sedating antihistamine. Or you can go to a store and get Loratadine (Claritin®), which is available without a prescription. Take the antihistamine the morning of your wedding, not later in the day when symptoms may already have started.
- Carry a small pack of tissues in your purse for a sudden attack of sneezes as well as anti-allergic eye drops to avoid red, itchy eyes in your photographs.
- If you are having someone do your hair and makeup, be sure they don’t use products that may aggravate your allergies.
- If you or any of your guests have food allergies, make sure the caterers understand the offending foods, such as shellfish, nuts, or dressings that contain peanut oil (all common food allergens). Also, make sure the caterers are able to answer questions from your guests about food ingredients. Some food allergy reactions can be very severe and even life-threatening.
- When traveling to and from the church and reception, travel in an air-conditioned car with the windows closed to prevent pollens from triggering your allergies. Limit the amount of time you spend taking outdoor pictures. You may want to consider all indoor pictures.
- Spend as much time as you can indoors with air conditioning where the air is generally free from pollens and molds. Stay tuned to the current pollen count by contacting the National Allergy Bureau at 1-800-9-POLLEN. For more information about allergies, contact the AAAAI by calling its toll-free line at 1-800-822-2762 or visit its Web site at www.aaaai.org.