New Year's PSA: Navigating the Perils of Partying

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We here at Bites love a great party as much as anybody. And with New Year's Eve falling on Saturday night this year, there's a lot of pressure to blow it out big time. So please, go ahead and have fun but do it as safely as possible. To help, we've got some useful advice as you set your game plan for the big night.

First and foremost, plan your game and work your plan. Trying to drive or get a cab from place to place and party to party is difficult enough on a regular Saturday night let alone the mother of all amateur nights. Try to schedule your visits around a centralized spot and walk from place to place. It'll probably be faster than trying to drive or hitch a ride between stops — and undoubtedly safer. As always, if there is nobody in your group sober enough to drive, take advantage of public transportation, especially from one of two Sober Ride bus stops at 2nd & Church or 5th & Broadway to catch a free, safe, and sober ride home, AAA's 1-800-AAA-HELP "Tow to Go" deal or for Pete's sake, just call somebody and wake them up to ask for a ride home. Any friend worth his or her salt would much rather drive you home from the Exit/In rather than bail your sorry butt out of jail — or worse.

Another real and present danger you might not even think about comes from annual tradition of popping the old Champagne cork. I'm more of a gentle uncorker myself, because I hate to waste good hooch just for the sound of a "pop' and a shower of bubbles. But if you insist on opening your bottles with panache, here's some official advice from the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

Every year, warm bottles of champagne, coupled with bad cork-removal techniques are responsible for causing serious, potentially blinding eye injuries. According to eye medical doctors in the United States, incorrect popping of champagne corks is one of the most common holiday-related eye hazards. For instance, a cork can fly up to 50 miles per hour as it leaves the bottle, generating a force powerful enough to shatter glass. Anything that travels with such force can have a dangerous effect upon impact with the eye. Eye-related cork injuries can lead to acute glaucoma, detached retina and staining of the cornea, all of which can result in decreased vision. Watch video of a champagne cork shattering glass.

In order for everyone to enjoy a fun, safe and injury-free holiday, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is providing tips on how to properly open a bottle of champagne.

Make sure sparkling wine is chilled to at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit before opening. The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.

Don’t shake the bottle. Shaking increases the speed at which the cork leaves the bottle, thereby increasing your chances of severe eye injury.

To open the bottle safely, hold down the cork with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood. Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and from any bystanders.

Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork.

Keep the bottle at a 45-degree angle as you slowly and firmly twist the bottle while holding the cork to break the seal. Continue to hold the cork while twisting the bottle. Continue until the cork is almost out of the neck. Counter the force of the cork using slight downward pressure just as the cork breaks free from the bottle.

Never use a corkscrew to open a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine.

Less physically damaging but certainly devastating is the prospect of the annual New Year's Day hangover. Fortunately, there is a woman named Kendra Strasburg who actually calls herself a Hangover Coach. Strasburg works closely with bartenders and spirits industry professionals to help them find balance in their lives and stay healthy despite having to drink copious amounts of alcohol several nights a week. (Bites cannot vouch for the scientific efficacy of her advice.)

She offers an interestiing preventative tip, if you can stomach it: “Take a tablespoon of olive oil before going out on the town. The fat actually lines the stomach walls and makes it harder for alcohol to penetrate getting into the bloodstream.” No sneak attack drunkenness this way, and “Naturally it leads to less of a hangover.”

While drinking, Kendra suggests “matching your cocktails one-to-one with water to help stave off the dehydration that is one of the root causes of your hangover” the next morning. Further maximize the benefits of that little glass of H2O by dropping a lemon in it: “Lemons have enzymes that replenish the liver and squeeze out toxins like wringing out a sponge,” says Kendra, “a perfect, simple way to balance as you imbibe.”

If you do find yourself being blinded by God's nightlight on Sunday morning, here are a few ideas to help lessen the misery, whether you deserve it or not.

Take a B vitamin — These are the first vitamins to be used up as your body processes last night’s debauchery — giving some back (either before bed or upon waking) helps restore energy naturally, and helps the rehydration process along.

Eggs — Eggs contain cysteine, which helps to mop up the “leftover mess” by breaking down toxic chemical byproducts of alcohol metabolism by the liver.

Coconut water — All the rage these days, coconut water is full of replenishing electrolytes, magnesium and potassium, without added junky ingredients like fructose and Red Dye No. 5.

Ginseng — the herbal equivalent of coffee, this all-natural stimulant will help regulate blood sugar levels.

Tiger Balm — Rubbing this salve on your temples promotes blood flow and work as a painkiller.

So enjoy your evening Saturday night and get home in one piece so we can all enjoy a great 2012.

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