Christmas and New Year provide an opportunity to be merry and socialise with your nearest and dearest but it is also a time of year where people tend to drink more than usual.

The increased amount of alcohol coupled with cold weather conditions can be a dangerous combination and it is important to look after yourself – and also your friends and family – whilst celebrating.

It is a myth that going out in the cold will sober you up and alcohol does not warm you up when you are cold – your skin may feel flushed due to the alcohol but the body will quickly lose the heat rushing to the skin increasing chances of hypothermia.

Alcohol also increases the likelihood of avoidable accidents – particularly on an icy surface – such as slips, trips and falls, increasing the potential need for medical treatment.

If you are out and about celebrating this festive season, these tips can make sure you safely return home to your own bed, rather than a hospital bed.

  • Eat something – eating food with alcohol helps you to pace yourself, and a full stomach will slow down the effects of the alcohol.
  • Pace yourself – enjoy a drink slowly. You don’t have to join in with every round.
  • Watch out for strength – try drinking low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks.
  • Watch your size – ask for a smaller glass. A large glass of wine is equivalent to roughly a third of a bottle!
  • Hydrate – alcohol is a diuretic, which means it will dehydrate you. Drink water regularly whether you’re drinking at home or in a pub.

If you follow this advice while out celebrating the less likely you are to end up needing medical attention or, even worse, end up in the A&E department – which is somewhere nobody wants to be during the festive period.

Prof Mark O’Donnell, Medical Director at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We all know the festive period is a time when people let their hair down.

“Unfortunately this can lead to problems and does lead to increased visits to hospital. The advice is to stick within your limits and look out for your friends to make sure they are safe so people enjoy themselves without incident wherever possible.’’

Dr Amanda Doyle, Chief Clinical Officer of Fylde Coast CCGs, said: “This is the time of year for people to enjoy themselves with their friends and family. The Fylde Coast CCGs want to make sure that we have provided as much information as we can to help people have fun and get home safely.

“The mix of alcohol and cold weather can be responsible for people requiring medical treatment and we would like to encourage people to take every precaution when they are out and about this Christmas and New Year.”

For more information about how alcohol can affect you over the festive period visit https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/for-your-body/drink-less/