Love is in the air, and Nevadans are celebrating Valentine’s Day. This annual observance is named for St. Valentine, a Catholic priest who served in Rome during the third century A.D. Legend has it that around this time, the Roman Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better, more focused soldiers in his army. He outlawed marriage among his troops. Valentine found this decree to be inhumane and continued to consecrate the marriages of soldiers and their lovers in secret. When the emperor discovered these treasonous unions, Valentine was executed. 
Today, Valentine’s Day is celebrated by old and young alike. Children often receive toys, candies or other expressions of their parents’ love. Young couples are forced to reckon with the seriousness of their relationships; if either partner feels that the holiday is a reminder of another year wiled away in a “meh” union, this Valentine’s Day could be the couple’s last. Older, more-established couples weigh the benefits of a mid-week date night – this year’s Friday observance of the holiday, annually on February 14, is a happy coincidence – against the costs of the babysitter and next-day hangover. Single adults may take the opportunity to indulge in self-love or self-pity, depending on their mood and preference.
Hearts, balloons, chocolates, and fancy dinner reservations are all in high demand. However, no matter your age or relationship status, one thing is certain about Valentine’s Day in Nevada: it is sure to bring to the surface a range of complicated and strong emotions related to oneself, one’s partner, and one’s romantic situation.
Valentine’s Day and Risky Driving
According to a study form the National Center for Biotechnology Information, emotions can have a direct impact on a driver’s speed, acceleration, and propensity to commit traffic violations. Strong emotions can result in what is called “maladjusted driving,” including aggressive driving and delayed reactions. Observations were divided into two categories for the purpose of this study: personal factors and properties of the specific driving situation. Personal factors would include circumstances separate from the road and driving situation, such as a stressful romantic holiday decision. Results from this study indicated that emotions such as anger, anxiety, and contempt lead to stronger acceleration and higher speed. The results persist for 2 kilometers beyond the emotion-eliciting event. Because higher speed can increase the likelihood of a driver getting into a car accident, as wall as increase the severity of the accident, highly emotional states on Valentine’s Day could lead to dangerous driving conditions across the state. 
If you must drive on Valentine’s Day, take a few extra precautions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Make sure you are in a calm and collected state before attempting to operate a motor vehicle. If Valentine’s Day finds you jilted by a potential love interest, consider ordering a pizza and watching a romantic comedy on your couch rather than taking a long drive to clear your head. If you must travel, do so without consuming alcohol, or call for a taxi or ride-haling service to get you where you need to go. Watch out for drivers who appear to be moving quickly or erratically. If you suspect a driver of being impaired or emotionally unstable, pull over to the side of the road and call for law enforcement to come help. Never try to follow an unsafe driver, as that could put you and your passengers at greater risk.
Emotions aren’t the only risk factor on the roads this Valentine’s Day. Many couples take the opportunity to partake in opulent meals at fancy restaurants, including many courses, dessert, and the inevitable bottle of wine (or two). Alcohol-impaired drivers are at greater risk of causing a car accident for multiple reasons. Alcohol has the following effects on a driver’s brain:
- Change in attitude
- Impaired judgement
- Reduced vigilance
- Altered perception
- Slower reaction time
- Trouble controlling vehicle
These effects are directly proportional to the amount of alcohol a person has consumed. On a night such as Valentine’s Day, when multiple cocktails or glasses of wine might be consumed in the name of romance, the roads can be a dangerous place. 
Hazards in the Home
Some couples may choose to stay in on Valentine’s Day to avoid risky driving conditions and pricy prix-fixe menus. However, the home chef faces various risks of injuries and accidents without leaving the kitchen. These risks may be even greater for aspiring cooks who are trying to impress a loved one by preparing a recipe beyond their ability. According to the Beaumont Emergency Center, the most common kitchen injuries involve burns, fires, and lacerations. Two-thirds of home fires start in the kitchen, leading to 480 deaths every year. Some 350,000 people are injured with their own kitchen knives each year. 
If you plan to cook on Valentine’s Day, take a few simple steps to keep yourself safe in the kitchen. Keep a clean and de-cluttered kitchen area, cleaning up messes and spills as they happen. Use step stools (not chairs) to reach things in high cabinets. Close cabinets and appliance doors to avoid knocking into them. Keep pets and children out of the kitchen, and don’t try to multi-task or answer the phone while cooking. Keep a first-aid kit nearby in case of injury, including bandages, antibiotic ointment, and anti-inflammatories.