April is alcohol awareness month

In Hood River County most of us are well aware of the positive contributions that the alcohol industry brings to our community. It is one of the county’s largest employers, a significant contributor to many of our nonprofits and an industry that brings thousands of tourists and millions of dollars to the community each year. It is a beverage that brings enjoyment and physical health benefits to many adults.

But there is also a downside to this addictive elixir that we all must work together to reduce.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States. Over 100,000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes; drinking and driving crashes, accidents, falls, fires, homicides and suicides.

Over half of all adults have a family history of alcoholism or problem drinking and 17.6 million people suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence.

If you are drinking too much, you can improve your health by cutting back or quitting. Adults should limit their drinking to no more than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men, per the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

You also need to know how much alcohol is in a standard drink. That is tricky in this day of fortified wine, beer, cider and hard liquor.

Alcohol use negatively affects the health and safety of our children. It is a primary factor in the four leading causes of death for young children between 10 and 21 years of age, taking 6,500 children’s lives a year in the U.S. Young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.

We are fortunate that all of the 171 alcohol licensees in our county work extremely hard to reduce the harm of alcohol abuse by youth and adults, from no service or sale of alcohol to underage youth to no service or sale of alcohol to intoxicated customers.

It takes a combination of law enforcement, responsible drinkers and responsible servers and hosts to reduce the sale or service of alcohol to underage youth and/or intoxicated adults and keep our community safe.

Hood River County Prevention Department and its network of prevention partners have worked for over 20 years to reduce alcohol use by youth. In 2013 less than a third of the county 11th graders used alcohol in the last month and less than a fifth binge drank.

Current alcohol use at eighth and 11th grades has trended downward over the last 10 years in face of an ever-growing alcohol industry. This reduction of youth alcohol use is possibly because of the commitment we all share in increasing the health, safety and success of our youth and the community in which they live.

It takes all of us: parents, youth, law enforcement, courts, businesses, schools, churches, agencies, elected officials, treatment and prevention providers and in particular our local partners in the alcohol industry to achieve these outcomes.

Thank you for helping make Hood River County the third-healthiest county in the State of Oregon.


Maija Yasui works as prevention specialist for the Hood River County Commission on Children and Families.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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