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Celebrate Responsibly: Alcohol poisoning prevention tips for Fourth of July festivities

Excessive drinking, including binge drinking, is a significant preventable cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) application, excessive alcohol use is responsible for over 178,000 deaths annually, ranking it among the top preventable causes of death, alongside tobacco use, poor diet, physical inactivity, and illegal drugs.

As the Fourth of July approaches, it's important to prioritize alcohol safety during celebrations.

"Alcohol poisoning is a severe and potentially life-threatening condition. It occurs when someone drinks too much alcohol, leading to toxic levels in the bloodstream that impair vital functions like breathing, heart rate, and consciousness," said Monica Mynsberge, Substance Use Intervention Coordinator with Aspirus Wausau Hospital.

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include mental confusion, difficulty remaining conscious, vomiting, seizures, trouble breathing, slow heart rate, clammy skin, dulled responses, and extremely low body temperature.

To help make alcohol consumption safer during Fourth of July festivities, Aspirus Health offers these tips:

  • Moderation is Key: Excessive alcohol consumption can impair judgment and increase the risk of accidents. Setting a personal limit and pacing your drinking can help.
    • For women, consuming three or more drinks within a two- to three-hour span is considered binge drinking.
    • For men, consuming four or more drinks within a sitting is considered binge drinking.
  • Stay Hydrated and Eat Nutritious Food: Alcohol can dehydrate the body. Drinking plenty of water and eating nutritious food alongside alcoholic beverages is essential. This approach helps prevent dehydration and reduces potential health risks.
  • Be a Responsible Host: If hosting a Fourth of July gathering, ensure the well-being of your guests by offering a variety of drink options, including non-alcoholic beverages, and encouraging moderation. Underage drinking should never be permitted. Mynsberge suggests, "Be vigilant and intervene if someone appears overly intoxicated, offering them alternatives like water or non-alcoholic drinks, food, and a safe place to rest."
  • Plan Transportation in Advance: Before the festivities begin, arrange transportation to avoid drunk driving. Encourage designated drivers within your group or arrange alternative transportation options like rideshares or taxis. Reminding everyone about responsible decision-making is crucial to ensure everyone's safety.
  • Firework Safety: Fireworks and alcohol should never mix. If planning to handle fireworks during the celebration, remaining sober and clear-headed is vital. Alcohol impairs coordination and judgment, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.

If you see someone showing signs of alcohol poisoning, Mynsberge stresses the importance of immediate action.

"If you observe a person showing signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning, don't hesitate to call 911. Speak to the dispatcher and provide them with a description of what you've observed. Based on your description, they will send assistance. It's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to something as severe and deadly as alcohol poisoning," said Mynsberge.

Let's raise our glasses to a fun-filled and responsible Fourth of July. Remember, celebrating responsibly doesn't mean you can't have a great time. Enjoy the festivities, but prioritize safety and look out for yourself and your loved ones.