The New Year’s countdown has started. 2019 is almost in the history books. A new year is a good time for hopes, dreams, and plans. But meanwhile, are you ready for the parties?
Your local first responders are.
Perhaps surprisingly, New Year’s Eve is not the busiest day for them. Those honors go to the 4th of July in much of the USA. Thanksgiving is another notably busy time, especially for fires and medical emergencies, followed by Christmas for most of the same reasons.
But even if they’re not securing Times Square from terrorists, first responders everywhere are getting ready for the parties. Because where there are parties, there’s drinking.
Dangers on the road
We all know the drill. We’ve heard the lectures. We all know it’s not safe to drink and drive. Or do we? From the declining numbers of alcohol-related accidents over recent decades, the message appears to be widely understood, but still today not everyone pays attention or thinks this applies to them. So, one more time: Alcohol can quickly impair your ability to drive safely.
Your size, weight, gender, what you have or haven’t had to eat, and the amount of alcohol you drank all influence the amount of impairment your central nervous system suffers. That’s why some people can drink and still think they’re functioning just fine.
But the plain facts are that alcohol consumption slows your reaction time, impairs your coordination, reduces your concentration, decreases your ability to see, and impairs your judgment. That makes it a recipe for trouble if you drink too much, then get behind the wheel.
There are similar problems if you’re high on any other drug, if you’re texting while the car’s in motion, you’re overly tired, or you’re distracted by raucous passengers. New Year’s Eve is prime time for all of those things!
And please, be nice to first responders you do encounter. They’re working on a holiday, to help keep you safe, and they’ll do it whether you appreciate it or not. But I really hope you’ll appreciate it, and tell them so.
When you’re getting ready for the parties, it pays to make plans. The Los Angeles Police Department has some tips to offer, and I’ve added a few of my own.
Be wary of anyone you don’t know. Did they come as the guest of an invited guest, or are they crashing the party to case your house?
Make sure party decorations are secured so they can’t be pulled over by accident, especially by pets, children, or unstable drinkers. Keep all flames (such as candles or fires in a fireplace or fire pit) far away from flammable clothing, decorations, or furnishings.
Keep potentially hazardous treats out of pets’ reach, and keep an eye out for guests accidentally letting a pet outside into danger.
Even if you offer alcoholic drinks, also have non-alcoholic drinks available for party guests. Consider offering food that can help buffer the effects of alcohol consumption. Have a plan for helping intoxicated guests get home via alternative transportation, a quiet place where guests can rest and “sleep it off,” or perhaps a designated driver for the party who doesn’t drink any alcohol.
If you’re ready for the parties, your parties will be lots more fun.
If you’re traveling anywhere, especially at night, don’t travel alone if you can help it. And while you’re forming a group, why not pick a designated driver?
Remember to lock doors and windows while you’re gone, so the burglars can’t get in! And surely it goes without saying that small children should always be left under competent, caring supervision–but I’ll say it anyway.
If you know you’ll be drinking, consider eating first. That’ll make the evening last longer. You’ll have more fun if you’re not passed out in the corner somewhere.
Be sure you’re ready for the parties, so you and your friends can stay safe while you’re having fun. And HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone!
Many thanks to LION Gear and Branson Fire Rescue for the fireworks photo. I deeply appreciate the sobriety checkpoint photo from Tulsa’s KJLA/Scripps News Service–and even more the willingness of Bartlesville, OK Police Chief Tracy Roles to go the literal extra miles to prevent drunk-driving accidents!
Many thanks to Stopping the Stigma of PTSD in First Responders and High Stress Workers on Facebook, for the “Text ‘Happy New Year!'” image–and also for your worthy mission! PTSD is near-endemic in these highly necessary, but high-stress jobs. Our first responders shouldn’t have to suffer the results with no support!