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How to stay safe on New Year's Eve in Southern California

A young Chinese girl celebrates the arrival of the New Year on December 31, 2017 in Beijing, China. Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

So you've decided to go out and celebrate the arrival of 2018. Good luck. We mean "Have fun!" That sounds terrific. It really does.

IF YOU DRINK, DON'T DRIVE

This should be obvious, right? Sadly, it isn't. If you drink too much, or maybe if you drink at all, DON'T GET BEHIND THE WHEEL. Every year, plenty of geniuses ignore this advice, get hammered and decide to drive. Bad things can — and do — happen. Don't be like Brandon Walsh.

Designate someone to stay sober and drive. Or call a cab. Or hail a ride sharing service. Yes, you'll pay plenty due to surge pricing but it's better than a DUI or an accident. And you can keep costs down, even on New Year's Eve.

If you call a ride haling service, avoid impostor drivers. Before you get into the vehicle, confirm your driver’s name and make sure the car's make, model and license plate match what’s in the app. Let friends and family know where you are and where you're heading.

EXPECT MORE SECURITY

Although there are no known security threats to any major New Year's events in Southern California, local and federal agencies are pulling out all the stops to ensure public safety. That means extra security measures will be in place at Grand Park's 5th annual New Year's Eve celebration, the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl.

Officials expect tens of thousands of people to turn out for Grand Park's 5th annual New Year's celebration — and hundreds of officers will be stationed throughout downtown.

"Folks will start to see that the minute that they arrive, even before they walk through the gates in terms of how the intersections are closed," Julia Diamond, Interim Director at Grand Park, told KPCC. "That's a multi-layered approach, the kind of screening that they'll go through, the kind of deployment that they will see inside the space."

Diamond estimates 700 personnel will be part of a multi-agency security effort that includes the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and L.A. Metro officers.

KNOW WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN'T DO

Pasadena Fire Chief Bertral Washington says first responders will be on hand to protect people who attend the Rose Parade — and to crack down on dangerous activities

"We'll be looking for hazardous situations as well as things like bonfires, which are not allowed. Bonfires can be especially dangerous because they can easily catch other things on fire," Washington told KPCC.

Small barbecues are allowed along the largest New Year's parade in the nation but owners must have a fire extinguisher. Smoking, alcohol and fireworks are prohibited.

If you're attending the New Year's celebration at Grand Park, don't take alcohol to this free, all-ages event. It won't be allowed. Gates open at 8 p.m. Sunday night.

There will also be a number of road closures related to the Rose Parade. You can get a look at the complete list here.

DON'T SHOOT GUNS INTO THE AIR

Yes, it's a thing. In fact, the LAPD says it's common during New Year's celebrations. What goes up must eventually come down. Sometimes those bullets hit other people and kill or injure them. Sometimes they land on dry brush and spark a fire. That bullet could come down anywhere. It's stupid to fire your gun into the air. In California, it's also illegal. 

"As fast as it gets shot up in the air, that's how fast it comes down. And we just don't want any tragic accidents to occur. It is a felony, and if we catch you doing it, you'll be going to jail," LAPD officer Mike Lopez  said.

Lopez says using fireworks in the city of Los Angeles is also against the law.

Now, get out there and have some fun.