Excitement is growing as July 4, Independence Day, approaches, but it’s important to balance fun and safety on this holiday. The National Council on Fireworks Safety, whose mission is to educate the public on the safe and responsible use of consumer fireworks so as to eliminate injuries, offers these tips for firework safety.
- Fireworks should be used outdoors only.
- Obey local laws. If fireworks are illegal where you live, do not use them.
- Always have water handy, like a hose or bucket.
- Don’t combine or alter fireworks, only use them as intended.
- Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Use common sense. Make sure spectators keep a safe distance from the shooter. Also, the shooter should wear protective eyewear.
- Have a “designated shooter;” alcohol and fireworks do not mix.
- Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any kind.
- Never use homemade fireworks of illegal explosives. Report explosives of this kind to your local fire or police department.
Another thing to consider on the 4th is the safety of your pets. Often times animals are irritated, distressed or overexcited by fireworks displays and the noise and commotion that comes with them.
Dr. Gwen Ray, a veterinarian with All Animal Health Center, says that since fireworks displays are usually planned, pet owners can take necessary precautions to keep pets calm and safe.
“The predictability helps, unlike thunderstorms where you don’t know (when they are going to happen),” Ray said. “Certainly do not leave them outside alone at this time. You can prevent it.”
Ray added that pets tend to follow the lead of their owners when it comes to hectic and exciting situations like fireworks.
“If the owners are being upbeat and happy, the dog tends to be that way. It’s really amazing how your behavior makes all the difference in the world. When you’re afraid, they’re afraid; or when you think they’re afraid and start pitying them, that’s how they start acting,” Ray said.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, destruction and escaping seem to be two of the most common behavioral problems associated with the holiday. Ray believes the panic causes a lot of dogs to try and escape an area, even if it is a familiar one.
To protect your pets on Independence Day, take these precautions offered by the HSUS:
- Resist the urge to take your pets with you to fireworks displays, they’ll be happier on home.
- Don’t leave your pet in the car—air inside will be hot and could result in serious health effects for your pet, sometimes even death. Partially opened windows won’t provide sufficient air, but they could provide an opportunity for someone to steal your pet.
- During displays, keep your pets inside at home in a quiet and sheltered area. Some animals become destructive when frightened, so be sure to remove items your pet could destroy that would be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leaving a TV or radio playing at normal volume as background noise could prevent distress.
- If you know that your pet is frightened by loud noises like thunder, talk to your veterinarian before July 4 for ways to help alleviate any fear or anxiety your pet will experience.
- Pay attention to your pets. Never leave them outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a chain. In their fear, pets that normally wouldn’t run away could escape and become lost, or become entangled in their chain, risking injury or death.
- Make sure your pets are wearing identification tags or are microchipped with owner information so that, should they become lost, they can be returned promptly. If you happen to find an animal, take it to the local animal shelter, where they will have a better chance of being returned to their owner.