When making plans to ring in the new year, Atrium Health Navicent physicians urge the community to stay safe behind the wheel. When people are impaired by alcohol, they may have poor judgment, impaired visual functions, declines in coordination and reduced reaction time. Even when people don't appear drunk, small amounts of alcohol may impair driving skills, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The National Safety Council reports that the three-hour period with the highest percentage of driver fatalities with blood- alcohol contents of 0.08 percent or higher is midnight to 3 a.m. — prime time for driving home from New Year’s Eve festivities.
“New Year’s Eve is a great time to celebrate and have fun. However, when spending time with family and friends, be sure to keep safety in mind. If your celebration includes alcohol, either have a designated driver or stay at home. And if you are drinking alcohol, don’t light fireworks. This could result in emergency room visits, and that’s not how anyone wants to ring in the new year,” said Dr. John Wood, medical director for the Emergency Center at Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center.
If your New Year’s celebrations involve fireworks, it’s important to take precautions to ensure those celebrations remain safe.
In 2022, fireworks were involved in an estimated 10,200 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments, and resulted in 11 deaths, according to a report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Adults ages 25 to 44 were the most likely to be treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries.
Fireworks — including sparklers and flares — can cause serious burns as well as blast injuries that can permanently impair vision and hearing. The most common injuries in 2022 included burns to the hands and fingers (29 percent); burns to the head, face and ears (19 percent); burns to the legs (19 percent); and eye injuries (16 percent).
Emergency and trauma physicians at Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center, a nationally verified Level I Trauma Center, encourage celebrants to protect themselves and their children from fireworks injuries by following these tips:
Handle and use fireworks in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and all warning labels.
Light fireworks on smooth, flat surfaces and aim them away from buildings, dry leaves, flammable materials and spectators.
Do not try to relight fireworks that malfunction. Soak them in water and then throw them away.
Do not modify fireworks or use homemade fireworks.
Light fireworks one at a time, then quickly move back.
Do not shoot fireworks from metal or glass containers.
Keep a phone and a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher handy.
Familiarize yourself with first aid for burns.
Adults should actively supervise all children when they are near fireworks.
Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees — hot enough to melt some metals.
After fireworks complete their burning, to prevent a trash fire, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device.
Physicians also urge revelers to avoid firing guns in celebration of the holidays. Bullets returning to the ground due to celebratory gunfire can cause serious injury or even death for bystanders in the area.
If an accident or injury occurs, seek appropriate medical treatment. For emergency situations, call 911 or seek care at the nearest emergency center. Atrium Health Navicent offers emergency care at the following locations:
Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children's Hospital (888 Pine St., Macon)
Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center (770 Pine St., Macon)
Atrium Health Navicent Peach Emergency Department (1960 Hwy 247 Connector, Byron)
Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin (821 North Cobb St., Milledgeville)
Putnam General Hospital, Atrium Health Navicent Partner (101 Greensboro Road, Eatonton)
For non-life-threatening injuries, visit your nearest urgent care provider. Atrium Health Navicent provides urgent care at three Macon-Bibb County locations:
Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care North (3400 Riverside Drive, Macon)
Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care East (1339 Gray Highway, Macon)
Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care Northwest (5925 Zebulon Road, Macon)