Staying Safe When It’s Time to Celebrate
New Year’s Eve is an occasion to celebrate, and the last thing you want is a health and safety hiccup.
"The holidays are always a busy time of the year in the Emergency Department,” says Northwestern Medicine Emergency Medicine Physician Steve R. Edelstein, MD, FACEP. “Conditions outside are precarious, and people are inclined to do things they normally wouldn't do.”
No matter what plans you have in store, keep these tips in mind to help stay safe on New Year’s Eve.
1. Plan accordingly.
If you’re going to a party or heading to a public event, make plans to arrive and leave with a group. A lot can happen on New Year’s Eve, and you want to ensure you, your friends and family are safe. Be sure to share your plans for the night and communicate your whereabouts if plans change.
To this end, pack a charger for your phone — a portable one may be especially helpful if you can’t find an outlet. Be aware of your surroundings; if you get separated from your group, you will want to know where you are, where you’re going and where you’re spending the night.
A filling dinner is another way to prepare for a long New Year’s Eve night. A wholesome dinner can not only help to absorb some of the alcohol you might indulge in, but it will also help you avoid nibbling on bar snacks.
2. Mind your limits.
Alcohol is almost unavoidable on New Year’s Eve. Even if you and your friends don’t partake, you’ll likely encounter intoxicated revelers over the course of your night.
If you are drinking alcohol, keep in mind your limits. “Try not to drink too much, too quickly,” says Dr. Edelstein. “The last place you want to be on New Year’s Eve is in the emergency department.” To help pace yourself, alternate alcohol intake with water or other non-alcoholic options. Also, never leave your beverage unattended. And finally, remember: It only takes 10 minutes for alcohol to reach your brain.
3. Celebrate safely.
Champagne is a New Year’s Eve staple. But according to one study, champagne corks can reach speeds up to 50 miles per hour. (That’s enough to shatter glass.) So don’t forget that corks should be popped away from guests or anything of value. And use the 45 degrees rule of thumb: It’s the ideal temperature to avoid spontaneous combustion and the ideal angle to uncork bottles.
4. Watch your step.
"Stay inside as much as possible,” advises Dr. Edelstein. Midwestern winter weather can make for unsafe conditions. Watch out for icy sidewalks. You don’t want to break an ankle or a wrist. These types of injuries can occur among all age groups, and even a simple slip on ice can necessitate surgery.
5. Avoid driving if possible.
Whether you’re a passenger or driver, the roads are particularly dangerous on New Year’s Eve. Help everyone stay safe by refusing to drink and drive, and don’t let anyone around you drive under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances.
If you’ll be at a friend’s house for New Year’s Eve, ask to spend the night, or book a room within walking distance of your festivities to avoid potential drunk drivers and the pre-existing dangers of driving in winter conditions at night.
“While it's important to have fun, keeping a level head and not getting injured or taken advantage of should be a primary consideration," says Dr. Edelstein.
No matter how you decide to ring in the New Year, remember to keep safety top of mind.