Every year, more than a million people crowd into New York City to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. Countless more people pack concert halls, house parties, and hotel ballrooms around the world, eager to ring in a fresh start surrounded by friends and family.
While New Year’s Eve is a time for fun and celebrations, it’s also a night full of densely packed crowds, freely flowing liquor, and dangerous conditions. It’s important for you and your group to take responsibility and to be ready for whatever urgent situations may come your way.
Here are five ways to empower you to take responsibility for your safety as you ring in the new year
1. Travel In a Group
There is safety in numbers, just look at how gazelles travel in herds in Africa. They have learned they are safer in groups with each protecting each other and even signal when a threat arises. As you make your plans to head out on New Year’s Eve, be sure to leave, arrive, and travel to any events in the company of a group of trusted friends or family members. Avoid leaving anyone behind or isolated with someone you don’t trust or know well as this increases their risk to becoming a victim. It is more difficult to get help if no one is around.
Make sure that individuals that you trust are aware of your plans for the night, and be sure to communicate your whereabouts if your itinerary changes at any point.
2. Maintaining Situational Awareness is Critical.
Always be alert and aware of your surroundings. Whenever you enter a new building or room, be sure to scope out your emergency exit routes. If anything were to happen, you may only have just a few split-seconds to make your move, so it can’t hurt to prepare ahead of time.
If a room seems unsafe, don’t hesitate to get your group together and leave. As Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, recently told U.S. News & World Report: “Places that are fire traps and fire hazards often look like they are fire traps and fire hazards,” and if your eyes tell you to leave, you should listen.
At the same time, keep an eye on your surroundings, particularly if you’re in a crowd, and remember the old adage – “if you see something, say something.” Practice situational awareness; keep your head up and avoid getting glued to your smartphone, and be on the lookout for anomalies in your environment, such as threatening or abusive behavior on the part of another partygoer. If you’re ever uneasy, don’t hesitate to take care of your own safety and alert someone who would be able to step in, such as the host of the party, a police officer, or the venue’s security or management team.
3. Keep an Eye on Your Drink
As Karen J. Terry, PhD, a criminal justice professor and author, once told Cosmopolitan, “The person at greatest risk to become a victim is someone who is alone late at night and is also under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
According to statistics published by WalletHub, 360 million glasses of champagne or sparkling wine are consumed on New Year’s Eve, and the average blood alcohol content for revelers is somewhere around .09%.
If you’re planning on going out on New Year’s Eve, there’s a high probability that you’re planning to imbibe. It’s important to stay safe while drinking. Remember to keep a close eye on what you’re drinking. Never leave a drink unattended, and don’t accept a drink or other handout from anyone you don’t know. If you have any doubts about your drink or believe it’s been tampered with, stop consuming it and seek help immediately. Trust your instincts and remember that if something seems off, it probably is.
4. Come Prepared
While most people expect their New Year’s night to be fun and carefree, the reality is that it’s impossible to predict what could happen to you over the course of the evening.
Always be prepared to communicate. Ensure you have your phone, it’s charged and you have access to a portable phone charger. People have been victimized when they leave their friends to retrieve a phone charger from a dark and lonely garage or find themselves in a Convenience Store robbery or mugging.
It might also help to wear sensible, closed-toed shoes, should you need to get away from a dangerous situation. In a worst case scenario, should you need to defend yourself, consider kicking, yelling and screaming for help. According to experts, drawing attention to yourself, especially in a crowd will often deter a would be crime.
5. Think About How You’re Getting Around
New Year’s Eve is one of the most dangerous nights of the year on the road. According to WalletHub, more than 41,000 people get injured in car crashes over the course of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, with auto accidents peaking during the prime time of 8 pm to 2 am, according to a report from ABC News.
Even individuals who choose to walk aren’t immune from danger; according to the New York Times, New Year’s Day is the deadliest day of the year for pedestrians in America.
The bottom line? Always have a plan for how you’re getting from point A to point B on New Year’s. Don’t drink and drive. At the same time, don’t adopt a false sense of security when getting into a taxi or ride sharing vehicle; you’re still getting into a car with a stranger, after all. Stay alert and engaged, and be ready to react if you need to get out of an uncomfortable situation.
The same goes when you’re walking from place to place. Predators tend to look for people who are vulnerable or unaware. Travel in a group whenever possible, and avoid getting distracted by your cell phone or walking with your head down. Instead, stay alert, scan your surroundings, and avoid looking like a soft target.
Remember, the most important thing you can do is to take responsibility for your own safety and security. On behalf of the entire O’Gara Training and Services team, we wish you a happy, safe 2018. If feeling safer and better prepared for emergencies is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!