While the holidays can be an exciting time, there are some
important things to consider to help keep you and your guests safe this
season.

   The Staff of the Henry and Stark County Health Departments note for
most, the holiday season is about spending time with family and friends, and
usually involves parties, good food and merriment. Another aspect of the
holidays is the additional amount of travel that comes along with attending
various functions coupled with the increased amount of holiday shoppers on
the road. So while the holidays can be an exciting time, there are some
important things to consider to help keep you and your guests safe this
season.

   RaeAnn Tucker-Marshall, Director of Public Information, notes, "If
you're hosting a party, there are lots of things to take into account,
whether it's trying to make sure you have enough food or worrying whether
there's enough parking in your neighborhood for all your guests. With all
that goes into planning a seasonal get-together, it's important not to
overlook your holiday party safety plans."

   Holiday parties often involve alcohol, and while you want your guests to
enjoy themselves, it's also important to make sure they are being
responsible. This involves keeping an eye out for anyone who may be drinking
too much, and either providing a place to stay or a means to get home with a
designated driver.

   Here are a few steps you can take to prevent holiday drinking and
driving. encourage area residents to celebrate safely. During the holiday
season, and year-round, take steps to make sure that you and everyone you
celebrate with avoids driving under the influence of alcohol. Following
these tips can help you stay safe:

* Plan ahead. Always designate a non-drinking driver before any holiday
party or celebration begins.

* Take the keys. Don't let friends drive if they are impaired.

* Have cab numbers on hand. If someone should not be driving and they insist
on going home, call a cab for them instead of allowing them to take the risk
of driving home.

* Offer plenty of non-alcoholic drinks. While many guests may want to enjoy
the holidays with an alcoholic drink, offer non-alcoholic drinks as an
option.
      
* Offer food if you're offering alcohol. Drinking on an empty stomach can
cause a person to become intoxicated faster. Offering food along with drinks
may help prevent guests from over-indulging on alcohol alone.

    Tucker-Marshall adds, "In addition we offer some driving tips: If
possible, drivers should try to stay off the road between the hours of
midnight and 3 a.m., when drunk driving accidents are most likely, according
to research from the U.S. Department of Transportation. And if the weather
is bad, which can easily happen in the northern and central states, consider
revising your plans so you won't have to travel on icy or snowy roads. With
a little foresight and by taking precautions, you can enjoy your holiday
season and stay safe as well."

   For more information on the program and services of the Henry and Stark
County Health Departments visit our website at www.henrystarkhealth.com or
find us on Facebook at Henry and Stark County Health Departments.