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February 17, 2017

Safe partying

Whether you are attending or organising a party there are things you can do to have a good time while staying safe.

Teenage parties

If you’re going to a party

Getting there and home safely

  • Drink driving or driving while tired. If you plan on drinking, or are tired, then don’t drive. Organise a lift with someone who isn’t drinking, take a taxi, or stay with the party hosts or stay at a hotel.

Look out for one another

  • Respect people’s decisions not to drink and don’t encourage risky drinking behaviours. Drinking in rounds, or drinking competitions and games can encourage people to drink more alcohol than they realise or originally intended.
  • Have they had too much to drink? If a friend has had too much to drink, encourage them to switch to non-alcoholic drinks. Make sure they are okay. If they are vomiting don’t leave them alone. If you think they need an ambulance, don’t hesitate to call one.
  • Getting home safely. If a person has been drinking or is tired, don’t let them drive home.

Hints for drinking less

  • Have a ‘spacer’ every couple of drinks. Start with a non-alcoholic drink to quench your thirst before you start drinking alcohol. Then have a non-alcoholic drink every 2nd or 3rd drink.
  • Pace yourself. Take sips, not gulps, and drink at your own pace, not someone else’s. This means trying to avoid drinking in rounds with everyone trying to keep up with the fastest drinker. If you are in a round, drink a low or non-alcohol drink.
  • Use a smaller glass. Try drinking smaller glasses of beer or wine, and make them last longer.
  • Don’t let people top up your drink. Always finish your drink before getting a new one. This helps you keep track of how much alcohol you’ve consumed.
  • Avoid highly alcoholic drinks. The number of standard drinks contained in an alcoholic beverage is listed on the container. Some may contain more than 1 standard drinks. If mixing your own drinks, use less alcohol than normal so you can pace yourself.
  • Eat before and while drinking. Eating slows your drinking pace. It also fills you up. If you have a full stomach, alcohol will be absorbed slower. (Avoid salty snacks though as they may make you drink more.)
  • Don’t just sit and drink – stay busy. Play pool, dance or talk to friends. If you have something to do, you tend to drink less.
  • Don’t feel pressured to drink. It’s okay to say no.

Tips for hosting a party

If you’re organising a party, do everything you can to make it safe. If anything goes wrong (either during or immediately after), you could be held liable. Careful planning of your party can help reduce the risks of something going wrong.

Legal and insurance issues

  • Where are you holding the party? Local laws may restrict the consumption of alcohol in public places.
  • Young people and alcohol. If people under 18 are attending the party, will they be consuming alcohol? In most states in Australia it‘s illegal to give alcohol to someone under 18 on private property without parental consent under secondary supply laws. Check the laws in your area by contacting your local police, community legal service, or council office.
  • Noise levels and disturbing the neighbours. All states and territories have laws that set out acceptable noise levels. Contact your local police, your local council or the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to find out more. It’s also a good idea to test your sound system to see how far the noise carries. Don’t forget to alert your neighbours about the party too.
  • Liability insurance. Find out what your policy covers.

Limiting the risks

  • Where are you holding the party? Will people have to drive there? How many people will it hold comfortably? Is it an open space, or are there gates and doors enabling you to check who is coming and going?
  • Will you supply food and drinks or BYO? If people will be drinking alcohol, ensure there is food and plenty of low and non-alcoholic alternatives.
  • Will you need security? This will depend on many factors including the size of your party. In addition to private security, police have party safe programs to minimise intoxication, violence and gatecrashers. You can register your party with your local police station.
  • What are the transport and accommodation arrangements? When selecting a venue, think about how people will be getting home and who will be happy not to drink so they can drive. But they still could be too tired to drive home safely. You may need to have spare bedding available for guests who need to stay overnight, this is especially important in country areas where it’s harder to get home.

At the party

  • Setting up the venue. How a party is set up can influence guests’ behaviour and assist with security. Place food where people gather but keep the alcohol serving area small and away from crowded areas. Is the bathroom easy to access? Is there a single entry and exit point to make security easier?
  • Ensure food is available and accessible. Eating can slow the pace of drinking. It also fills people’s stomachs, reducing alcohol consumption and slowing the process of getting drunk.
  • Track alcohol consumption. Only serve alcoholic drinks on request – don’t allow people to top up alcoholic drinks. Consider a non-drinker being in charge of the bar area. This can help control the amount of alcohol consumed.
  • Keep people entertained. Activities such as a pool, table soccer, dance music, karaoke, games and movies can keep people entertained and take the focus off drinking.
  • Dealing with problem behaviour. Try talking to the person in private, offer them food and alternatives to alcohol, or see if a friend can influence them. When refusing to serve them any more alcohol, try to keep calm and avoid getting into an argument.
  • Plan for emergencies. Have a list of important phone numbers such your local police, the nearest medical centre and taxi services. Have these in your phone and make sure you know how to cope with basic emergencies.
Make a change to your drinking