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'TIS THE SEASON TO BE CAREFUL; ALCOHOL AWARENESS: SIMPLE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS CAN HELP HOMEOWNERS SAY 'BAH HUMBUG' TO HOLIDAY ACCIDENTS

   'TIS THE SEASON TO BE CAREFUL; ALCOHOL AWARENESS:  SIMPLE SAFETY  PRECAUTIONS CAN HELP HOMEOWNERS SAY 'BAH HUMBUG' TO HOLIDAY ACCIDENTS
    NEW YORK, Dec. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- 'Tis the season to be merry, but hosts had better keep a close eye on how much their guests have to drink at holiday parties this year, insurance experts say.
    "Hosts who provide holiday revelers with too much liquid merriment may find themselves legally liable if a guest has one for the road and is later involved in an auto accident," said Randolph J. Smith, senior vice president-personal division for the Atlantic Mutual Companies.
    While the rules vary from state to state, so-called host liquor liability laws mean party-givers can be sued for damages arising out of deaths, injuries or property damage caused by an intoxicated motorist. In some cases, guests have even sued their hosts for letting them get behind the wheel.
    One way to get around the problem, Smith suggests, is for hosts to collect the keys of arriving merrymakers.  "Trouble is, they don't want to offend a guest so too often they return keys to a driver who shouldn't be behind the wheel.  But today, more people realize it's better to risk being impolite and make sure their friends get home safely."  Smith also recommends asking some guests to serve as "designated drivers" or suggesting that they chip in for a chauffeured limousine for the evening.
    For larger holiday gatherings, Smith recommends hiring a professional bartender who not only controls the amount of liquor served but can better judge when someone's "over the limit."  Professional bartenders often carry their own liability insurance.  Ask to see a copy of the policy, and call the insurance company to make sure it's still in force.
    But the over-indulgent merrymaker is only one of the problems a homeowner can encounter during the holiday season.  "The likelihood of accidents in and around the home increases dramatically at this time of year, so homeowners have to be especially careful," said Smith.  "It's a high risk time of the year."
    Homeowners can reduce the likelihood of accidents, Smith said, if they follow a few simple tips:
    -- Clear driveways, walkways and porches of leaves, ice and snow that could cause a visitor to slip.  Install outside lights where needed.
    -- Secure loose carpet edges that might trip a visitor.
    -- Make sure house numbers are clearly visible from the street in both directions.  Guests slowing their cars can cause accidents as they search for a number.
    -- Restock first-aid kits and learn how to perform the Heimlich maneuver.  Choking is one of the most frequent medical emergencies during the holidays.
    -- Test smoke detectors and install extra ones near holiday lights and decorations.  Check fire extinguishers and keep them handy, especially around the fireplace and in the kitchen.
    -- Move cleaning supplies, medicines and sharp kitchen utensils out- of-reach of visiting toddlers.
    The Atlantic Mutual Companies writes commercial, personal and marine classes of property and casualty insurance.  Established in 1842, Atlantic Mutual has 21 offices throughout the Unites States serving independent agents.
    -0-              12/10/91
    /CONTACT:  Steve Oppenheimer of Brouillard Communications, 212-210-8625, for Atlantic Mutual Companies/ CO: Atlantic Mutual Companies ST: IN: INS SU: FC-SM -- NYCFNS1 -- 0794 12/10/91 07:11 EST
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 10, 1991
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