Being a Responsible Party Host with Alcohol

| December 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

The holiday season is perhaps the busiest time of the year for parties and gatherings, and often these gatherings feature festive alcoholic drinks.

And while of course many people celebrate with alcohol, it’s important to remember that there are important safety guidelines to keep in mind anytime alcohol is involved at a party.

Are you hosting a festive party or gathering this holiday season? Here are some important tips to keep in mind for keeping you and your guests safe.

Know about social host liability laws.

Did you know that there is such thing as social host alcohol liability? Laws can differ by state, and some states do not impose liability on social hosts.

In general, however, most states will impose liability on social hosts when alcohol is served to a minor or when alcohol is served recklessly to guests who are clearly intoxicated. A social host should never encourage minors to drink or encourage guests to drink excessively.

Be mindful of relative drinking limits.

Everyone has a personal drinking limit depending on a number of factors, including weight, gender, and age.

So drinking limits are relative. A 200-pound man, for example, could drink one drink and have a resulting BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.02%, while a 100-pound woman could drink the same drink and have a resulting BAC of 0.05%.

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BAC charts can help you estimate what a person’s drinking limits are based on gender and weight. A website like Blood Alcohol Calculator has men’s and women’s charts for estimating BAC depending on weight and number of drinks.

To estimate a person’s BAC, simply start with the men’s or women’s drinking chart and then use the person’s weight and number of drinks to estimate what their BAC is. The chart will also tell you how BACs correspond to safe driving limits, impaired driving, legal intoxication, etc.

Know what a standard drink is.

Not all alcoholic drinks are created alike, as some alcoholic drinks have a higher concentration of alcohol than others. Be sure to keep this in mind when servings drinks to your guests. Here is a basic guide to standard drink sizes, based on alcoholic drink type:

  • Beer or cooler, about 5% alcohol: 12 oz.
  • Malt liquor, about 7% alcohol: 8–9 oz.
  • Wine, about 12% alcohol: 5 oz.
  • 80-proof distilled spirits, about 40% alcohol: 1.5 oz. (one shot)

Don’t forget to take this into account when preparing mixed drinks. A cosmopolitan prepared with 1.5 oz. of vodka, for example, is considered one standard drink. In addition, be sure to check alcohol labels for alcohol by volume (ABV). ABV will be given as a percentage of ethanol in the total volume of the drink.

Yes, the average ABV is about 5% for beer, 12% for wine, and 40% for liquor; but the ABV will still vary depending on the manufacturer and particular drink.

Offer food and non-alcoholic drink options.

Social drinking is made much more safe when guests have food to eat and non-alcoholic drink options to choose from. A party isn’t all about the alcohol, after all!

Help your guests get home safely.

While guests should take responsibility for their getting home safely, it’s still a good idea to keep track of how your guests will be getting home. Anyone who is a designated driver should have a BAC of absolutely 0.00%.

If any of your guests have been drinking and need a means for getting home, consider helping arrange carpools, Uber transport, taxi rides, a place to sleep, etc.

Know the signs of alcohol poisoning.

In addition to being able to recognize the signs of intoxication, you should know the signs of alcohol poisoning as well. Alcohol poisoning is most often caused by binge drinking, and it can be fatal.

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This article has some great information on recognizing the signs of alcohol poisoning. In general, if someone is unconscious and you cannot rouse them, you should call an ambulance immediately.

Make sure your home is hazard-free.

It is impossible to anticipate or prevent every potential hazard in your home, but there is still a lot that you can do to make your home a safer space for party guests (especially those who have been drinking.) For example:

  • Make sure your porch, walkway, and driveway are free of ice and snow.
  • Have adequate outdoor lighting.
  • Fix any broken stairs (or make them off limits to guests.)
  • Add a rug to step-down areas where guests might not know there is a step.
  • Keep any weapons or dangerous sports equipment out of sight.

Refrain from drinking yourself.

Finally, keep in mind that because alcohol can significantly impair judgment, it’s best to take it easy on the drinks if you are the party host. None of these tips will mean anything if you are not in the proper capacity to apply them at your party or gathering.


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