Rick Klepper: 678.588.1622 | Doug Wilson: 205.903.3272 | Kerry Gossett: 205-281-5681 staff@counterthreatgrp.com

It’s about that time again, folks! One of the most exciting nights of the year, New Year’s Eve, is right around the corner. While you have probably begun planning out where you will watch the fireworks, grab some drinks, and which outfit you will wear, have you thought about your safety for the evening? For many, the answer is most likely “no,” which is understandable considering the relatively safe country that we live in. But to properly enjoy one of the biggest nights of the year, we all need to consider our own personal safety and security in advance.

Transportation Concerns

Having a plan before the big night is an effective way to avoid safety issues, especially considering that many people may have one too many drinks in celebration of the coming year. Any New Year’s Eve plan should include how you and your friends will return home safely after the festivities. Designating a sober driver is always a smart idea when enjoying a night on the town, and it is an even smarter idea to do it well in advance. Deciding who will be the sober driver now allows the individual to plan out their evening, so that they will be available and most importantly, sober! Springing this request on someone on the big day, especially when they had the intention of partying themselves is discourteous and decreases the chances that they will actually remain sober enough to pick you up at the end of the night. Negotiating is a good option, possibly by offering to trade New Year’s Eve for another big night in which you will serve as the designated driver for the other person, like a “DD IOU.” Offering to pay your designated driver as much as you would a Lyft or Uber driver is an additional alternative that can help ensure you will have a sober, safe ride at the end of the night. Designated drivers should also be extra vigilant on this night as New Year’s Eve is consistently one of the most dangerous nights of the year to drive because of drunk motorists on the road.

If you are unable to find a reliable designated driver, it is best to hash out now the other ways you can safely get home. The taxi cab/Uber/Lyft situation will undoubtedly be a mess on the big night, especially after midnight when everyone is clamoring to get home in a drunken stupor. If this is your fall back, you run the risk of waiting for hours to find an available ride. It is best to be realistic about your chances of finding an available ride and choosing an off time to return home. It might be worth it to consider finding a nice late-night diner or café where you and your friends can enjoy a sobering meal and wait for the crowds to disperse. Public transportation is also something to consider. Be sure to check the metro or bus schedule in advance if you plan on using this option as many systems may have holiday hours or not operate at the hour you are anticipating. If you are lucky enough to party close enough to walk home, be sure to wear enough layers as states across the country are experiencing unseasonably freezing temperatures. Finally, renting a hotel room is also a good option if every member of your party wants to drink safely, although this is another option that needs to be considered in advance. Regardless of which option you choose, always have a backup plan!

Personal Security

In addition to a solid transportation plan, we need to consider our own personal security when preparing for New Year’s Eve. For instance, sharing your location on your phone for the evening with the members of your group, a roommate, or even a parent is a good way to ensure friends do not get separated or drunken individuals do not end up somewhere dangerous. This might make some individuals who cherish their privacy (myself included) uncomfortable, but all too often friends get split up when alcohol is involved, especially considering the enormous crowds you will undoubtedly face when the end of year countdown happens. Having a clearly identifiable rally point picked out is also a solid option. Setting alarms on everyone’s phones for a designated meet up time may help alert alcohol-influenced individuals. Additionally, try to keep your important possessions in a pocket on the inside of your coat, especially when going elbow to elbow with the countdown crowd.

Avoiding Dangerous Situations

Although New Year’s Eve may be one of the most exciting nights of the year in a country that is largely safe, the reality is that bad things can and most likely will happen. New Year’s Eve gatherings, especially in major cities like New York City and Las Vegas, are particularly dangerous, with hundreds of thousands of people gathering to countdown to the new year, often in a tight space with limited movement. These venues may seem attractive to many, but they provide an easy target to any potential wrongdoers. In fact, ISIS recently released a video in which the group threatened to attack people drinking and celebrating New Year’s Eve. Consequently, it may be wise to enjoy the New Year’s Eve countdown from a much less populated area where you can exit the premises quickly. If enjoying fireworks, consider a nice park or hillside view. Although police departments in most major cities are heightening security this year to prepare for potential attacks, you should be prepared for the worst all the same. Ladies should consider wearing shoes they can run in, if necessary. Everyone should be aware of exits in buildings and egress routes in crowded areas. Finally, as you may have heard on the news, in airports, and other public places this holiday season, “if you see something, say something!” Speaking up about something suspicious could be the difference between a night of celebration and a night of tragedy.

While a lot of this stuff may seem obvious, all too often people find themselves in unfortunate situations that could have been avoided if they had been prepared. And in light of the increased level of attacks against large crowds across the globe, we need to adjust our own personal level of security and awareness as well. This New Year’s Eve make the most of the celebration of the coming year but also empower yourself and have a solid security plan in the back of your mind. On that note, bring on 2018!