Our holiday celebrations have been very different this year, and most of us are ready for 2020 to be over and are looking forward to ringing in the new year. New Year’s Eve can be exciting, but our trauma experts say it’s also one of the deadliest holidays of the year.
To slow the spread of COVID-19, medical experts at both Elliot Health System and Southern New Hampshire Health ask that you refrain from big gatherings. However, if you plan on celebrating this New Year’s Eve, our trauma experts have some recommendations on how to celebrate safely.
Statistics show that New Year’s Eve is one of the holidays when celebrants tend to drink the most alcohol. According to the American Addiction Centers, 47% of men and 40% of women admitted to binge drinking during New Year’s Eve. Data shows that 42% of all crashes on New Year’s Eve involve a drunk driver. On average, according to the New Hampshire Traffic Safety Administration, the state sees a significant increase in crashes this time of year, with a 38% of total fatalities on Christmas and 41% on New Year’s.
Sadly, the trauma teams at both The Elliot and Southern also see more debilitating injuries such as alcohol poisoning, burns and other injuries from firework accidents, gunfire accidents, injuries from champagne corks, and pedestrian injuries.
Fortunately, there are numerous things you can do to stay safe over the New Year’s holiday. Those include:
- Designate a driver before a celebration begins
- Plan to stay over or use a rideshare
- Don’t walk under the influence
- Stay alert and awake
- If you spot a drunk driver on the road, alert authorities right away
If you plan on popping champagne or sparkling wine, follow the advice of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and remember the number 45. Chilling your champagne to at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit makes the cork less likely to pop out unexpectedly. Hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle, pointing it away from yourself and others when opening, to avoid eye and other injuries.
Leave the fireworks to experts and never let children handle or light sparklers. Fireworks can cause burns to the hands, face, eyes, and ears. Per the Consumer Product Safety Commission, sparklers heat up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and account for 40% of injuries that children experience.
Wear your seat belt. The National Safety Council says, when used, seat belts are 45% effective in preventing fatalities among front seat passenger car occupants. It is estimated that an additional 150 lives could be saved this New Year’s holiday period if worn.
Stay away from firearms. It is a tradition for some to shoot firearms up in the air on New Year’s. This is a very bad idea, as what goes up must come down and a stray bullet can seriously injure or kill an innocent bystander. So, instead, stick with noise makers to make a bang!
Staying inside to celebrate? If you are in a wintery climate, ensure that the furnace vent, if you have one, is cleared from snow as it is often a source of carbon monoxide buildup which is deadly. Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working and have fresh batteries. Inside your home remove trip hazards and place extension cords along the walls to prevent falls. Fry your turkeys outside and far away from the home to prevent fires. Blow out your candles and unplug space heaters, holiday decorations, and tree lights when you leave the home or go to bed. Check in virtually with loved ones, as many experience a sense of loss, sadness, or isolation during the holidays.
On New Year’s Eve, everyone wants to have an unforgettable night—in a good way. By following a few of these simple steps, having a good sense of awareness, and taking these safety tips to heart, we can all have a happy, healthy, and safe celebration.