Essential safety tips for New Year's Eve parties - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Essential safety tips for New Year's Eve parties

© / Christine Balderas © / Christine Balderas

By Michelle Ullman


New Year's Eve is synonymous with parties, fun and champagne. There's no better way to ring in the new year than gathering with friends for a night of festivities, but be sure to take steps to keep your party safe. After all, you want your friends to be with you for many New Year's Eves to come.

Alcohol Issues

Alcohol plays a major role in most New Year's Eve tragedies. Follow these commonsense tips to keep your guests safe, and alcohol consumption under control.

- Recruit a few guests to act as designated drivers. Contact them before the night of the party so they are prepared to avoid alcohol during the celebrations.

- Collect the car keys of your guests, and keep them in a jar or bucket near the front door. Drivers must be sober before they can collect their keys to drive home.

- Plan entertainment for the evening. Games such as charades, board games or party guessing games are a great way to have fun. Dancing and good music make for a wonderful night. Keep your guests busy with more than just drinking.

- Have plenty of food on hand, and make sure platters of hors d'oeuvres are kept fresh. Foods with protein, such as meats and cheese, help buffer the effects of alcohol. Provide non-alcoholic beverages and plenty of water.

- If one of your guests appears to be drinking heavily, encourage them to slow down and switch to soda or punch instead.

- Stop serving alcoholic drinks at least an hour before your party's end. Switch to coffee, water or fruit juices.

- If a guest is too intoxicated to drive home, and there is no designated driver available, call a cab or have your friend spend the night. Do not let them talk you into giving them their car keys. It is better to have a friend temporarily angry with you than injured or worse in an accident.

Pet And Child Safety Tips

New Year's Eve can present danger to pets and young children. Keep them safe and avoid common hazards during your party.

- Alcohol can be tempting to both pets and small children. Even if you are tired at the party's end, make sure to put away any bottles of alcohol, or partially filled glasses. Even a small amount of alcohol can make a toddler or a pet sick.

- If you have a nervous dog or skittish cat, consider closing them in a back bedroom for the evening. Check on them periodically, talking in a soothing voice.

- Party food can be a source of danger or illness to both pets and small children. Dogs and cats can develop digestive trouble from sampling rich foods that are not part of their usual diet.

- Small foods such as grapes, round candies or bite-size meats are choking hazards for very young children.

- Keep an eye on decorations. Balloons are a choking hazard for both pets and children. Streamers, tinsel and confetti can cause choking or injury in a curious pet who decides to sample them.

- Fireworks and firecrackers are often set off on New Years Eve, and can be terrifying for pets. Dogs have sensitive ears, and may become panicked by the loud sounds. Keep your pets secured inside the house, or safely locked in the garage during your party.

- With guests coming and going, it is easy for a pet or small child to slip out the door unnoticed. Watch the door, and warn guests not to leave it ajar.

- Keep an eye on candles. These can be very enticing to a small child, and dangerous to cats or other curious pets.

- If you have birds, rabbits or pet rodents, move their cage to a quiet, secluded room during your party. Covering their cage with a cloth may help keep the animal stay calm and unstressed by the noise and bustle of the party.

- Though children may want to stay up and join in the fun, put your younger children to bed at a reasonable hour. Overly tired, cranky children are not having a good time, and are not fun to have at your party.

General Safety Issues

- Not only is it illegal in most areas to shoot a gun into the air, it is also very dangerous. A falling bullet has more than enough velocity to penetrate a human's skull. Keep guns safely locked away on New Year's Eve.

- Fireworks are another safety hazard. They are illegal in many areas, and are a cause of fires and injury. Avoid fireworks and firecrackers, and don't allow guests to set them off on your property.

- The cork from a bottle of champagne can erupt at speeds up to 60 miles per hour. Always keep the bottle pointed away from your face when uncorking it, and keep guests clear of the path of trajectory.

- Make sure your front walkway and entrance are free of any potential tripping hazards, and you have a doormat for guests to dry their shoes when entering your home.

- If you use your fireplace during your party, keep the screen positioned to avoid sparks, and do not throw any paper trash or food scraps into the fire.

Follow simple, commonsense rules for a safe party, and your guests will have a fantastic New Year's Eve, then go home to enjoy the next day healthy and sound.


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