Birthdays, holidays, weddings, and other celebrations bring family and friends closer together. They present the perfect opportunity to share fond memories and create new ones. They allow you to relax, unwind, and put your feet up.
Special occasions also give you the chance to indulge a little. You may toast to a sister’s happy new relationship. Perhaps you may drink to liven up the party. Or you sip a bit of wine to accompany the fine cheese served at dinner.
But whether you down one can of beer or several bottles of wine, alcohol reduces your inhibitions and impairs your motor skills. If you don’t exercise care, you could suffer a severe injury or become involved in an accident.
To stay safe while celebrating, remember to follow these simple steps.
1. Know Your Limits
Many experts recommend drinking alcohol in moderation, which is no more than one 12 oz. beer (for women) or two 12 oz. beers (for men).
However, this recommendation doesn’t mean that you won’t feel tipsy after one can. Your size, weight, ethnicity, and age all contribute to your ability to tolerate alcohol. As a result, you may feel alcohol’s effects much sooner than some of your friends or family members.
If you know that you feel tipsy after one shot and thoroughly drunk after two, ask a friend or bartender to help you stay within your safe limits.
2. Snack Before and After Sips
Alcohol absorbs quickly, and once it hits the bloodstream, it quickly distributes throughout the rest of your body. Soon the drink widens blood vessels (creating temporary feeling of warmth), lowers pulse rate, and decreases blood pressure. Oftentimes, you can often feel alcohol’s effects within 30 minutes after consumption.
Food, however, takes much longer to digest. When you snack on foods high in fat, such as cheese or meat, the foods absorb and mix with the alcohol in your stomach. Though heavy foods can’t keep you completely sober, they can slow alcohol’s overall absorption rate, so you can maintain greater control over your senses for a longer time frame.
3. Choose Your Drinks Carefully
Parties and events give you the chance to explore new flavors and try new combinations. But remember that not all drinks are created equal. Some fruit spritzers only have trace amounts of alcohol, boosting your mood but leaving you in control. Yet other cocktails could offer enough alcohol to knock you off your feet.
The Zombie, for example, includes three types of rum, Pernod, and Angostura bitters. It creates a drink so strong that many restaurants won’t let you buy more than two in a night. The Aunt Roberta, similarly, mixes gin, vodka, absinthe, blackberry liquor, and brandy so it contains 100 percent alcohol per serving.
For your own safety, ask about the alcohol content of each drink you have and make sure the bartender measures the alcohol accurately.
4. Find a Non-Drinking Partner
Even if you carefully measure each spritzer, shot, and bottle you have, you may start to lose track of your alcohol intake after one or two drinks. Four shots may seem like three, and six cocktails may seem like four. And as you continue past your limits, you may struggle to string together coherent sentences.
A non-drinking partner can watch your back and make sure you stay within a safe limit. Furthermore, he or she can guard against unwanted advances from strangers, take away your car keys, and accompany you during the taxi ride home. During an emergency, a non-drinking friend can call paramedics and provide first aid should you suffer from alcohol poisoning.
5. Save a Taxi Number to Your Phone
You already know that you should never drive when drunk. And you may already have the habit of designating a driver for your parties and events. But even reliable friends and buddies may struggle to stay sober during a celebration. When emotions run high, no one wants to feel like the odd man (or woman) out.
For some occasions, you’ll need backup transportation for the drive home. When you save the number of a reliable taxi cab company to your phone, you won’t have to hitch a ride with a tipsy friend.
To take safety precautions further, pre-book your taxi before your next party. You can arrange for the driver to arrive precisely when the celebration ends and designate your home address while you are still sober.
6. Wait Inside Until Your Taxi Arrives
In some big cities, you can hail your taxi driver from the street. Places like New York and Chicago have fleets of taxis combing the streets for travelers in need of transportation.
But when you’ve had one drink too many, you don’t want to wait by the curb or by a stoplight. As alcohol impairs your motor skills, you may find yourself falling in the way of traffic, increasing your risk of injury. Furthermore, thieves on the street may see you as the perfect target, and you may lose your purse or your smartphone as a result.
So wait indoors until your taxi arrives, and only exit the building when you can confirm the taxi’s appearance matches the company’s description.
When you follow these six steps, you can rest assured that your next celebration will end safely.