6 Tips for Safely Ringing in the New Year

By Heather Kennedy-Bordeaux, Esq. on December 30, 2014 | Last updated on December 13, 2022

This post was updated on December 13, 2022

Should all acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? An apt question. New Year’s Eve is the night that we ask ourselves what to carry forward and embrace in the new year and what to leave to history. We resolve to do better. Despite that resolve, many goals will fall to the wayside. The last thing we need before the new year is to end the current one on a bad foot. Take a step in the right direction by following the tips below when planning your end-of-year gathering or outing.

Safe-Check Your Home

If a guest is clobbered on the head by a falling curtain rod or takes a flying header on bacon grease on the kitchen floor, you can be held liable for injury as the homeowner. Make sure you have renter’s or homeowner’s insurance prior to your get-together. Check for obvious hazards. Are there any loose wires or outlets that children may become curious about? Are all stairs free of obstacles? Is the walkway and the front stoop free of ice and snow? Asking these basic questions may allow you to see hazards around your home that you did not previously notice and prevent a lawsuit.

Keep Your Gathering Dry

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the holiday season is the deadliest time of year for drunk driving, with more than 800 deaths in December 2019. While it may be frustrating to “police” others’ drinking, in many states, a host who provides alcohol to adults can be held liable if the guest later causes an injury or death as a result. Providing alcohol to a minor is almost always illegal as well. Consider not serving alcohol, and if you do, monitor your guests closely.

Arrange a Ride Service or Use Mass Transit

If you are not hosting, but are instead hitting the town for the evening, consider booking a ride before you go, even if you do not plan to drink alcohol. Even the best-laid plans sometimes go awry, and you may end up drinking more than you planned. Many cities provide free bus or train rides. You may find that researching the options available in your area in advance will better prepare you to approach your evening with some spontaneity, as you’ll be ready for all possibilities.

Leave the Lights On

Many people go on vacation or extended family visits during the holidays. Burglars and thieves sometimes monitor potential targets. If someone has been watching your home already, they may know your routine based on when your porch lights, your internal lights, or your holiday light display lights up and goes dark.

If you are planning to be out the evening of December 31, leave key lights on. Consider putting your holiday light display on a timer so it will shut off later than normal (around 3 a.m. or so). Leave the kitchen or living room light on when you are gone. A program playing on the television may be even more convincing. Despite what some true crime shows would have you believe, criminals are less likely to break into your home when they believe someone is home.

Use Fireworks With Care

In 2020, nearly 16,000 fireworks injuries were treated in emergency rooms. Because of the risk of injury, most cities have fireworks ordinances designed with the goal of reducing injuries. Make sure you check with your city and comply with these ordinances before launching any fireworks.

Additionally, soberly supervise all firework activity. Mind your body position, protecting body parts from the fuse. Back up to a safe distance after lighting. Never hold a lit firework in your hand. Avoid relighting duds. Make sure you have a bucket of water or a hose to extinguish any smoking remains.

Secure All Vehicles

New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest days of the year for car theft. When it’s cold, people are more likely to warm up their cars and leave them running, making them ripe for the picking. If you never leave your car running while unattended, engage an anti-theft device, and keep your car secured in your garage or a parking ramp where cameras are active, you will improve your chances of hanging onto it. You should also remove all valuable items from your vehicle completely, since thieves may break the window attempting to enter your trunk from the inside. Never assume thieves will not break in assuming something valuable might be inside.

The last few years have been trying if due only to the pandemic. Nerves fray and worries abound. Despite tribulations, the search for meaning in the present year and improvement in the next is an annual ritual. Key to moving forward is ensuring a safe passage for our hopes and dreams. The tips provided above can help create that passage as we look to leave our past gently to history and forge our way forward to the future. For as Seneca said: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.”

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