HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Do not celebrate the new year by firing guns into the air, Orange County Sheriff's Office warns.
"Stray bullets can be deadly," Sheriff Charles Blackwood said. "A bullet fired straight into the air will come back down at a slower velocity than it went up, but that bullet will still be traveling fast enough to penetrate a human body."
Firing guns into the air is illegal and dangerous.
Two years ago, a stray bullet injured a UNC student celebrating in Raleigh.
"A bullet fired in the air comes down 20-90 seconds later, and it can harm someone as far as a mile or two away," Blackwood said. "This is why firing a weapon into the air is never a good idea, even in rural areas."
With bars and restaurants closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Blackwood warns that this creates a new dynamic.
With more people celebrating close to home, it could mean more pedestrians out after dark. Blackwood said this makes it more important than ever to select a designated driver or use a ride sharing service such as Uber or Lyft.
"At night when the motorists may have been drinking and you may have been drinking as a pedestrian, again think about it ahead of time. Wear something reflective. Turn your flashlight on on your cell phone. Just something to make you more visible," Orange County Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Alicia Stemper said.
Fireworks and bonfires are also very popular at-home events on New Year's.
"Have somebody who's sober. I mean fireworks don't mix with alcohol. So keep people far away, have a bucket of water or hose. Just simple steps to mitigate, if something does go wrong, to mitigate how bad it gets," Stemper said.
Do not fire guns into the air during New Year's celebration, Orange County Sheriff warns