New Years Eve is a great chance to celebrate the year gone by and the coming of a new one. However, these celebrations also come with great dangers and responsibilities. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you make your New Years plans!
After midnight, New Years celebrations end and millions take to roads and public transportation to make their way home. The combination of sheer number of travelers plus the inevitability of irresponsibly impaired drivers makes for a dangerous evening on the roads and one of the most deadliest days for drunk driving in our nation. Over 50% of accidents on New Years Day involve high blood alcohol concentration. The national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign not only spreads the message of safe driving during the season but also comes with a national crackdown on drunk driving enforcement. Officers throughout the country will be on high alert, making every effort to keep roads safer for travelers heading to or from family visits.
If you are celebrating New Years Eve away from your home or will be traveling at all, here are some ideas to keep you safe.
- Plan your travel options ahead of time, arranging for a designated driver, a hotel stay, shuttle/limo service, public transportation and extra “Plan B” options before your night out.
- Consider local Sober Ride programs and have their information handy for yourself or friends. http://duijusticelink.aaa.com/for-the-public/aaas-role/public-education/sober-ride
- SoberRides.org provides a desktop and mobile site with options for how to get home safely. http://www.soberrides.org
- Use public transportation or cabs both to and from your destination so you can avoid leaving your car in a strange place overnight.
- If you must leave your car, park in a populated, well-lit area. Roll up windows, lock all doors and ensure all valuables are left at home or secured out of sight.
- Bring only what you need with you – including identification, money and one credit card. Leave any department store cards or unneeded valuables at home.
New Years Day is also the most hazardous day of the year for pedestrians. Not only are drivers potentially impaired, but those on foot can also ignore traffic lights or crosswalks. If you are walking, make sure to stay on pedestrian paths and observe traffic laws; only cross at crosswalks and try to remain in well-lit areas. If you are driving, take extra care to consider those on foot.
For Party Hosts
Hosting a New Years Eve party can be a great way to spend time with friends and families (and also to control the environment of the party), but hosting comes with great responsibilities. In addition to providing a great party atmosphere, consider these tips to keep your guests safe.
- Make sure smoke alarms are working and have fresh batteries.
- Research numbers for local hospitals and authorities and have them ready in the case of an accident.
- Contact a local cab company to provide rides for your guests, or have a trusted designated driver ready to take guests home if necessary.
- Offer non-alcoholic drink options and have plenty of water available.
- Use differently colored cups for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Dump unattended cups so kids and pets do not consume them.
- Stop serving alcohol several hours before the party ends (and stick to it!).
- Provide food and snacks so guests aren’t drinking on an empty stomach. Avoid salty snacks, which can actually encourage people to drink more.
- Do not provide alcohol to minors. Keep an eye on all drinks and supplies.
- Provide guests a place to stay overnight should they need to. Even if accommodations are less than ideal (like a blanket on the floor), they will be safe!
Other Safety Considerations
It’s a strange one, but a projectile champagne cork can absolutely be a danger, especially if you are not used to opening bottles! Use the “45 Rules” for bubbly. Chill champagne to at least 45 degrees F, as this will make the cork less likely to pop. When ready to open, place a towel over the top of the bottle and hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle, pointing it away from yourself and others.
First of all, make sure to check your local regulations regarding personal use of fireworks. If it is illegal or if you are unfamiliar with how they work, leave them to professionals! If you still decide to use legal fireworks, make sure to keep children and pets away from the area – even sparklers, which are often used by kids, burn at temperatures of about 2000 degrees and can be incredibly dangerous. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose at the ready. Light fireworks one at a time, then move back away from them. Never attempt to re-light a firework that did not go off the first time; douse them and other spent fireworks with plenty of water before discarding them. And of course, never point or throw fireworks at another person.
Between fireworks, noisemakers and general revelry, pets can experience high anxiety on New Years Eve. Scared pets can bit or run and potentially get hurt, cause accidents or become lost. The best way to keep pets safe is to keep them indoors and comfortable; consider playing relaxing music to drown out any startling outside noises. Make sure fences and gates are secure and that your pet has a current ID tag and that all microchip information is up to date. If your pet has shown signs of extreme anxiety in the past, you might also consult your veterinarian and ask for anti-anxiety medications.
In some cultures, it was previously a tradition to participate in celebratory gunfire at midnight, shooting handguns into the air. Not only is this illegal, but it can be deadly; falling bullets can be fatal. In Phoenix in 1999, a young teen was killed outside of her home by a bullet that was fired into the air more than a mile away. Deaths have resulted in harsher penalties for this crime, so leave all firearms safely locked inside this holiday.