By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — It’s that time of the year again for Christmas parties and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

And with those gatherings, it’s also time to think before you drive.

“We want to make sure you’re hosting a safe holiday party,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview.

During past holiday seasons, he said, there have been 1,200 fatalities across the United States involving impaired drivers. Crashes also injured 25,000 people.

“That’s two to three times higher than any other time of the year,” said Lenhart. “And men are four times more likely to get into trouble with drubs, alcohol and marijuana. There are now 26 states which allow medical marijuana treatment” so those that information will factor into impaired driving statistics.

Lenhart said it’s wonderful to celebrate the holiday season, but those celebrations should be safe for all individuals involved. Here are some tips for a safe holiday:

• Make sure your sidewalks and driveways are clear of snow and ice.

• Make sure there’s proper lighting so people can see where to walk.

• Place valuables out of sight so no one is tempted to tak them. Also close all bedroom doors and other rooms you don’t want guests to go in.

• Serve food during the entire time of the party. “Avoid salty foods as those will make the person want to drink more,” said Lenhart.

• If you’re serving wam appetizers, make sure they are properly attended and don’t sit out too long.

• In the kitchen, clear all combustibles from heat sources. Make sure your fire alarms and fire extinguishers work properly.

• Avoid the use of candles. There’s a danger of the flame catching something on fire.

• Make sure you have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages available. “And as the host,” said Lenhart, should stay sober.”

• Stop serving alcoholic drings one hour before the party ends. Have snacks, soft drinks and coffee for your guests to eat and drink.

• Make sure there’s a designated driver or transportation is provided for a guest who over-indulges. If there is no driver, have the person stay at your house overnight.

“If you’ve had too much to drink,” said Lenhart don’t let the myths about getting sober confuse you,” said Lenhart. “You can’t drink coffee to sober up. A cold shower won’t make you sober up. Exercise won’t help you to get sober.”

If you are driving home from a party and see another driver who you think is impaired, theere are several things you should do, said Lenhart.

“Don’t try to pass the person in your vehicle,” said Lenhart. “Stay a safe distance away from them and call 911. Gather as much information as you can about the vehicle: the direction it’s going, the color, make and license plate and try to determine how many people are in the vehicle.”

By Melanie Speicher

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.