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Sumter County Sheriff’s Office releases safety tips for New Year’s Eve

If you’re planning on going out for the evening, whether to a party at someone’s home or to a business to celebrate, make sure you have a well-established plan for the evening and that everyone in your group is aware of the plan.  This includes not only establishing a designated driver for the evening, but making sure everyone in your group knows where you are headed, and also having a set of numbers available in case a ride needs to be arranged, as well.  If you have a smart phone, go ahead and program the phone numbers of taxi companies into your contact list.

Avoid posting any travel plans on social media sites. While it can be fun to tell your friends and relatives when you might be arriving somewhere or where you plan on celebrate, it can also tell others that your home is empty.

Drive defensively.  While the dangers of drinking and driving should be clear to everyone, many people will unfortunately ignore common sense on New Year’s Eve/Day and get behind the wheel anyway.  According to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, half of all traffic fatalities nationwide on New Year’s Day involve a legally-intoxicated driver, making Jan. 1 the worst day for drunken driving.  This makes it even more important that you or your designated driver not be distracted while driving.  This includes avoiding texting, loud music or loud conversations while in the vehicle.

Last year, according to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the Palmetto State had 11 motor vehicle related fatalities between Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, or nearly two-and-a-half times the average daily fatality rate in South Carolina.  

Remain aware of your surroundings.  Once you arrive at your destination, make sure to keep your personal belongings (purses, wallets, phones, etc.) nearby, if not on you, at all times.  Do not leave a drink unattended.  The designated driver should park in a well-lit area, and should also have their keys in-hand and ready when returning to the vehicle.

Avoid carrying unnecessary items.  Have only the credit cards you need with you, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.  If you use an automatic teller machine during the evening, scan the area before hand and make sure it is in a well-lit area.

If you’re hosting a party or gathering, make sure you have a non-alcoholic beverage to offer your guests, and offer non-salty foods for your guests to enjoy.   Be prepared for the possibility of guests needing to stay the night, as well.  Do not be afraid to take the keys from a guest you believe is inebriated.

Prepare your pets.  With New Year’s also comes not only large crowds, but also firework celebrations.  Sudden loud noises can easily frighten your pet, and could prompt them to act erratically, and possibly make them more likely to become aggressive and bite.  Keeping pets inside in a comfortable room can be a good option.