Break Point!

Volume 2, Issue 12 View the Archives December, 1999
Ending the Millennium Safely
Making Every Step a Safe One
Planning a Holiday Party? Start Smart!
The Designated Driver's Special
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
Loyola University Injury Prevention Program Supports "Lights on For Life Day"
Next Month in Injury Prevention

Ending the Millennium Safely

Kathy O'Day
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Injury Prevention Program

The holiday season is in full swing. This year is a big year for parties. The end of the millennium is here! More people than ever plan to celebrate this "big event". Hotels and restaurants have been booked for months in anticipation to this year's record attendance of partygoers. Don't let the end of the millennium be the end of you!

December is also Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month (3D Month). Communities across the country will be working hard to reduce crashes, injury and death that too often result from impaired driving. 3D Month coalition and it's government partner, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), conducts national events such as: "Lights on for Life Day and Holiday Life Savers Weekend.

This month Break Point will focus on how to end the 20th Century safely.

Break Point is produced by Loyola University, Burn and Shock Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program. Please call us at (708) 327-2455 or email to: Kathy O'Day with any comments or questions.

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Making Every Step a Safe One

Too often when partygoers get intoxicated they think they are doing the right thing by walking home. Everyone knows you shouldn't drive drunk but many people are unaware of the fact that walking impaired has the same deadly consequences as driving.

According to NHTSA, 34% of all pedestrians 16 years and over killed in traffic crashes in 1998 were intoxicated. The numbers increase to 48% for those between 35 and 44. Research has shown that impaired pedestrians have very high blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) that indicate binge drinking and/or severe chronic drinking.

Here is some lifesaving information to make every step a safe one: If you are a pedestrian-

  • Remember that alcohol affects your balance, impairs your judgment and reduces your alertness and coordination. It can also affect your vision.
  • Limit how much alcohol you consume, especially if you plan to walk. Do not fool yourself about your ability to walk in traffic safely.
  • Be more visible to traffic by carrying a flashlight or wearing retro-reflective clothing at night. During the day, wear bright colored clothing.
  • If you know someone who has been drinking and is planning to walk, offer to call him or her a cab or escort him or her, even if it is only for a short distance.
  • Even if sober, walk defensively, be vigilant. Be aware of drivers that may be under the influence and a threat to pedestrians. If you are a motorist:
  • When you drive, particularly at night, watch for sudden unexpected movements by pedestrians. Scan the road widely and often, and prepare for the unexpected. Slow down!

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Planning a Holiday Party? Start Smart!

Planning a party this holiday season takes a lot of thought, organization and effort. You owe it to yourself and guests to plan the activities responsibly.

NHTSA estimates that alcohol is involved in 39 percent of all fatal crashes. That equates to about one alcohol-related fatality every 33 minutes. 1.5 million drivers were arrested in 1997 (most current data available) for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.

When planning your holiday events in which alcohol will be served, you should take some basic steps to ensure the safety of your guests. These steps will remind your friends and guests that you care about them and their safety:

  • Promote the fact that you are hosting a "responsible" party. Suggest to your guests as they arrive that at least one person in the group remains sober and serves as the "designated driver".
  • Inform your guests that you have non-alcoholic beverages available as an alternative to alcohol.
  • Limit the access to alcohol. Don't be "heavy handed" when mixing drinks. It is responsible to water down drinks. Monitor the number of refills your guests have had.
  • Close the bar at least one hour before the party ends.
  • Serve food and lots of it. High-protein foods slow the body's absorption of alcohol. Avoid salty foods that encourage people to drink more.
  • Focus on fun. Have games, music, entertainment or other activities to shift the party's emphasis from drinking to socializing.
  • Know the signs of impairment can include lack of coordination, unusual behavior, and slurred or incoherent speech. Even those without outward signs can be impaired.
  • Be prepared. Keep the phone numbers of cab companies handy. Know the "safe ride" programs in your area. Be prepared for overnight guests.

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The Designated Driver's Special

This holiday season will bring more people together than ever before. More people plan to attend parties this season than they did in the past. This is an exciting time but we need to remember that drunk driving takes lives!

A good idea when planning a party is to prepare a variety of non-alcoholic beverages. Be sure to provide an assortment of non-alcoholic beer, champagne, and equally attractive mixed drinks (or "mocktails") as alternative to alcohol.

Try a few of the "mocktail" recipes listed below for your holiday function and enable guests to party responsibly and safely.

  • Red Delicious Punch- Pour 2 bottles of non-alcoholic sparkling cider into a punch bowl. Mix in 1 quart of cranberry juice. Float a frozen ice ring and garnish with sprigs of mint.
  • Fuzzy Navel -3/4 oz. Non-alcoholic peach schnapps and orange juice.
  • Margarita-1 oz. Sour mix, oz. Rose's limejuice, and oz. Orange juice.
  • Pina Colada-1oz. Pineapple juice, 1oz. Cream of coconut, 1tsp. Orange juice, 1 tbsp. Cream, and 3-4 pineapple chunks, then blend.
  • New Year's Eve Kiss- Pour 2oz. Passion fruit juice in a champagne flute. Fill with club soda.
  • Faux Kir-Fill a large wine glass halfway with chilled white grape juice. Stir in 1tbsp. Grenadine syrup. Fill with cold raspberry ginger ale.
  • Dress up coffee with whipped cream, cinnamon or chocolate.

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It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

It wouldn't seem like Christmas if there weren't Christmas trees and houses adorned with colorful lights. The decorations help brighten the holiday season when used properly. Safety should be a primary concern when decorating your house. Here are some useful tips to help keep fire safe this Christmas:

Christmas tree safety-

  • Consider an artificial tree. They are safer than natural trees.
  • When purchasing a live tree tap the tree on the ground if the needles fall off the tree is not fresh. Pull on the branches. You should not be able to pull needles off the tree.
  • Cut 1 inch off the trunk to help the tree absorb water. Check the water level daily. Never let the tree get dry.
  • Keep the tree away from any heat source such as fireplaces or heat registers. The tree should be at least three feet away.
  • Never use candles even on artificial trees.
  • Use cool-burning lights such as miniature lights. The larger lights become hot and pose a fire hazard.
  • If your tree should become dry during the holiday season, do not turn on the lights. It is wiser to take the tree down.
  • Dispose of the tree properly. Never burn the tree in a fireplace. Electrical safety-
  • Read all instructions on light strands before decorating.
  • Use only UL-approved lights and place no more than 3 strands of lights together.
  • Do not use frayed electrical cords. Replace any burned out bulbs prior to decorating. Unplug the strand of lights before changing any bulbs once the strand is up.
  • Use only outdoor lights outside your home. The light strands are labeled for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Do not run extension cords under rugs or furniture. This poses a fire hazard.
  • Keep electrical wires out of the reach of children. Place the wires to the center of the tree. Fasten outdoor lights securely to the house, trees or posts with plastic fasteners. Do not use metal staples.
  • Unplug light strings and decorations before you go to bed or leave your home.
  • Make sure your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.

Safe gift ideas-

  • Smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors.
  • A quality fire extinguisher
  • Flashlight and batteries or light sticks.
  • A second floor escape ladder.
  • Emergency kit which contains- water, first aid kit, flashlight, extra batteries, a battery operated radio.

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Loyola University Injury Prevention Program Supports "Lights on For Life Day"

On November 2, 1999, Governor George Ryan declared the month of December as Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month in Illinois. The proclamation was made to increase awareness of this national problem.

Loyola University Injury Prevention Program supports Governor Ryan's proclamation by hosting a "Fatal Vision" Checkpoint to increase drunken driving awareness at the Stritch School of Medicine and at the Medical Center.

The "Fatal Vision" Checkpoint will take place at the Stritch School of Medicine Cafeteria and at the North Entrance of the Medical Center. This event will take place on December 17, 1999 from 11:00 Am until 1:00 Pm. Participants will wear specially designed goggles to simulate .08 BAC and .10 BAC levels. Illinois State Troopers will be on hand to conduct a field sobriety test to show the participants how they are impaired. The Injury Prevention Program personnel will be available to provide information and answer questions.

This event will coincide with "Lights on For Life Day", December 17, 1999. Motorists around the country are asked to drive with their headlights on during the day to show support for anti-drunk driving efforts and remember those killed by impaired drivers.

For more information about the "Fatal Vision" Checkpoint or any other injury prevention topics, contact the Injury Prevention office at (708) 327-2454 or browse our website.

All are encouraged to attend and make the pledge to keep sober and remember "You Drink and Drive. You Loose" Let's mark the end of the millennium Safe and Sober.

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Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention

  • Weathering Winter

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