Health Department Reminds New Yorkers to Stay Safe on New Year's Eve

Emergency room visits for alcohol-related injuries and illness soar on New Year’s Day each year

Dec. 30, 2016 – With New Year’s Eve a day away, the Health Department reminds New Yorkers to take care of themselves and others on this festive holiday. Alcohol-related emergency department visits more than double on New Year’s Day compared to other days of the year, according to an ongoing analysis by the Health Department. Peak hours of arrival at the emergency department for alcohol-related visits are between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. This pattern is consistent across several years of data.

“Every year on New Year’s Day, the number of alcohol-related emergency department visits in New York City more than doubles,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We want New Yorkers to ring in 2017 with friends and family, not in the emergency room. Be sure to drink in moderation and space out your drinks during your New Year’s celebration.”

The Health Department offers the following tips for holiday revelers:

  • If your New Year’s celebration includes alcohol, be conscious of how much you drink. It’s better to have one less drink than one too many.
  • Eat dinner before the celebration starts, and enjoy snacks throughout the evening.
  • Pace yourself, and also drink non-alcoholic beverages, such as water.
  • Avoid caffeine and energy drinks; these can mask the effects of alcohol and cause you to drink too much.

Health risks increase at the following levels:

For men:

  • Excessive drinking is defined as 5 or more drinks in a short period of time, such as a 2-hour period, or
  • More than 14 drinks in a week.

For women and people 65 and older:

  • Excessive drinking is defined as 4 or more drinks in a short period of time, such as a 2-hour period, or
  • More than 7 drinks in a week.
  • Note: There is no known safe level of alcohol consumption when pregnant.

What counts as one drink?

  • A 12-oz. glass, bottle, or can of beer or ale
  • A 5-oz. glass of wine, or a 3.5-oz. glass of fortified wine
  • A 1.5-oz. 'shot' of distilled liquor or brandy (many mixed drinks contain more than one shot)

Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health, said, “New York’s New Year’s Eve celebration is the greatest in the world, but nobody should start 2017 by binge drinking and ending up in an emergency room or behind the driver’s wheel.”

 “As Americans, we have long associated New Year’s Eve with a cocktail glass. Celebrating with friends and family can be fun, but visiting an emergency room due to overconsumption of alcohol is no way to spend the holiday. Thanks to the New York City Department of Health for timely ‘words to the wise’ on how to celebrate prudently. This is helpful advice for all of us as we turn the page on the calendar for 2016,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services.      

If you or someone you know finds that drinking interferes with your daily life, contact NYC Well for free and confidential support and resources. Call 1-888-NYC-WELL, text WELL to 65173, or chat online by going to

For more information about alcohol and your health, click here.

* NOTE pertaining to the figure above: Data from syndromic surveillance were used for this analysis. Syndromic surveillance includes data from 54 emergency departments (ED) in New York City.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Stephanie Buhle (347) 396-4177