In just a few short days 2012 will come to an end and it will be time to celebrate the fresh beginning of yet another year filled with promise and hope. Many will be going out to large gatherings, some will travel to large parties in a big city, while some will stay in with friends and family. Whichever way you choose to celebrate the arrival of the new year, it is important to always put the safety of yourself and others first.

So before you begin your epic night of partying and tip back the bottle of bubbly, here are a few safety tips to keep everyone safe:

If you are going to be out and about:

  • Bring only necessities in your handbag or wallet, such as your driver’s license, cash and one credit card. Don’t take your store credit cards, gift cards or any other valuables that you might normally carry with you.
  • Beware of what you post on social media. By posting what your are doing for NYE, you are also publicly alerting others that you are not at home.
  • If you plan on drinking do not drive. Plan ahead and make sure you have a designated driver.
  • Alcohol related auto accidents are highest between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m., so if possible, avoid being on the roads at these times.
  • If possible, use public transportation or take a cab both to and from the party, that way you can avoid leaving your car in a strange place overnight.
  • If you do drive, make sure you park in a well lit area that is populated and all windows are rolled up, doors are locked and valuables are out of sight.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • If you are attending a large party where there are going to be crowds, make sure your travel in groups or pairs so no one gets separated or left at the end of the night.
  • Do not set your drink down and leave it unattended for any amount of time.
  • Do not forget to eat and drink water/non-alcoholic beverages between alcoholic ones.
  • If driving, watch out for intoxicated persons in the roads. They may be more inclined to walk out in front of cars and not pay attention to lights or crosswalks.
  • If you are walking to and from a party, do not walk alone, you will make yourself a more attractive target for an attacker. Also pay attention to where you are walking to avoid bumps, holes and curbs.

If you are staying in:

  • If you are having a party at your place, be sure all smoke alarms are working.
  • Have phone numbers handy for a cab company just in case guests cannot drive.
  • Collect car keys from guests who are planning on drinking
  • Have two distinct cups: one for adult beverages and one for non-alcoholic ones. This will keep alcohol out of the hands of children or guests who may be allergic to alcohol.
  • If cups remain unattended for a while, dump them, especially if there are kids or pets around that might be curious and want to consume them.
  • If you serve a minor in your home, even in the presence of their parents, you could be in major trouble with the law.
  • Noisemakers, champagne corks and other party favors can be dangerous for children and pets, especially if they shoot across the room or break into pieces.
  • If shooting fireworks, do so in an open area where homes and power lines are out of the way. Keep children and pets away from where you are igniting them and never re-light a firework that did not go off the first time.
  • Make sure you have food and snacks available so your guests aren’t drinking on an empty stomach.
  • Have a variety of non-alcoholic beverages and plenty of water for your guests.
  • Stop serving alcohol at a determined time and stick to it.
  • If you’re burning candles, remember to extinguish them before the end of the party.
  • Be prepared to let guests stay overnight to avoid drinking and driving.

Remember to follow these safety tips and your new year will start off the right way. The new year should signify a new start filled with opportunity. It should not begin with a tragedy.