How to Stay Safe While Ringing in the New Year

OLD SACRAMENTO -- Millions are already starting to ring in the new year but New Year's Eve is also a time when emergency responders are on high alert.

Many of the celebrations in public places or at private parties will involve alcohol.

"Limit your intake, drink water with it and also eat a good, hearty meal with it," said Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Capt. Chris Vestal.

It’s OK to toast the new year but take precautions.

If you are toasting or drinking in bars or other unknown surroundings, fire department paramedics are warning you to keep an eye on your cocktail. Too often they’ve run across victims who had their drinks spiked with unknown drugs.

"Don’t leave your drinks unattended, whether you are a male or a female," Vestal said. "There are cases different where different drugs have been slipped into that and that really complicates things when we arrive on scene trying to figure out how we can help that patient."

Paramedics know more than anyone that traffic collisions involving alcohol will be more common New Year's Eve night into New Year's Day.

Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft are a good option if you aren’t quite sober after celebrating but a designated driver is best.

Remember, if you can drive, drive defensively.

"You may think you’re fine but the other driver could be a little more dangerous as well," Vestal said. "So we really need you to be at the full alertness that you might be able to have."

Old Sacramento events have been a problem in the past. That’s why the celebrations this year are geared toward the family earlier in the evening.

Still, there will be extra officers on alert.

"We are prepared. We have our normal patrol officers who will be patrolling the streets this evening," said Sacramento Police Sgt. Vance Chandler. "In addition to that we have specialty units out, our DUI team, motors, our bike teams. So we’ll have a heavy presence in the Old Sacramento area."

Celebrate Safely

New Year’s Eve comes with fireworks but too many are a part of private celebrations.

"The only time that personal fireworks are legal is during the Fourth of July holiday," Vestal said.

Non-certified fireworks, like bottle rockets, are never legal. They are a hazard even during this time of year.

"If a firework falls on a roof it can still catch that roof on fire and the vegetation, especially the dead vegetation, is still dry and could still ignite and spread to a structure," Vestal explained.

Police departments have confiscated enough illegal guns to know that they will be fired off at the stroke of midnight. They’re reminding everyone that people have been killed by guns fired into the air during celebrations.

"Very dangerous. We do not want anybody firing up in the air because you don’t know where those bullets are going to land and that’s extremely important to send that message out that we do not want people to be firing guns up in the air," Chandler said.

While certainly not as dramatic, champagne corks aimed in the wrong direction can cause serious eye injuries. Paramedics warn that a lightweight cork can go flying at 50 mph and ricochet off walls that are too close.

Also, don’t get so wrapped up in New Year's Eve celebrations that you forget about your family pets.

As with the Fourth of July, make sure fences and gates are secure, your animals have an ID on them and maybe sedate them so loud noises don’t send them running into the night.

Festivities begin in Old Sacramento at 6 p.m. and end at 10 p.m. with fireworks starting at 9 p.m. this year.

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