The holiday social calendar often may be jammed with get-togethers that come with hidden dangers. The number of injuries and deaths from alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents increases during the holiday season as people leave festivities after drinking too much.
“It’s not because people are depressed; it’s just because they’re partying, and they think it’s OK to drink and drive,” says Dr. Kathleen Delaney, an emergency medicine and internal medicine physician at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “It’s better to call a cab than to pay for a hospital bill — or a funeral.”
Legal blood-alcohol limits for a driver vary among states. Regardless, people experience coordination impairment and reduced alertness with blood alcohol levels of 0.05. A 120-pound woman reaches 0.04 after consuming one 12-ounce beer. A 160-pound man reaches 0.05 after two beers.
“Common sense says you know that you’re impaired even at those levels,” Dr. Delaney says. “It’s the holidays, so you’re going to have a few drinks and enjoy yourself. But just don’t drive a vehicle. Designate a driver. Being in an accident is not a good holiday present.”
For those who will not be driving, Dr. Delaney recommends limiting total alcohol consumption, spacing alcoholic beverages at least an hour apart and having a nonalcoholic beverage between drinks to help counteract alcohol’s dehydrating effects. Also, ensure that all drinks containing alcohol — including eggnog and punch — are out of the reach of children. Alcohol consumption can cause a child’s blood sugar to plummet, she says.
Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/emergency to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in emergency medicine.
Media Contact: Connie Piloto
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