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Tips for a safe New Year’s Eve in Austin

As we say adios to 2017, here are a few things to know for a safe New Year’s Eve:

1. Leave it to professionals: Unless you’re a licensed fireworks professional, you’re not allowed to set off fireworks in many cities, including Austin, Buda, Cedar Park, Kyle, Lakeway, Leander, Pflugerville, Round Rock and San Marcos. It’s also against Texas law to shoot fireworks within 600 feet of a church, hospital, day care center or school without permission.

2. Don’t shoot. It can be potentially deadly to fire celebratory gunshots. A shooter can face a variety of charges, depending upon where the bullets land. For instance, if a bullet wounds someone, the shooter can face a felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

RELATED: Celebratory gunfire wounds woman, proves elusive for police

3. Bring your pets inside: Every New Year’s Eve, the Austin Animal Center sees a spike in runaway pets that were frightened by fireworks. Make sure your pets are properly tagged and microchipped so they can be safely returned to you.

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4. If you must drink: A good rule of thumb is one drink an hour followed by a glass of water, says emergency doctor Ross Tobleman at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Round Rock. That way you avoid dehydration and minimize inebriation.

5. Free rides to downtown: Capital Metro will provide free rides after 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. MetroRail will have extended operating hours, with the last train leaving downtown at 2:30 a.m. MetroRapid buses will run until 3 a.m.

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