Fireworks aren’t always a cause for celebration

The Fourth of July should be festive — not frightning. And with America’s Independence Day approaching, and the anticipation of colorful sparks filling the sky, it’s important to remember that the explosive noise of fireworks can be traumatic for some people and animals alike.

The booms and bangs of fireworks can be particulary harsh for veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. The sound of gunshot-like noises can trigger flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and even suicide. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that between seven percent and 20 percent of those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq have developed PTSD. In 2015, fireworks triggered a Georgia veteran’s post traumatic stress, which led to him taking his own life, his family said.

One solution offered by veteran advocates is to offer neighborhood meetings to educate others about PTSD and how those with it are affected by situations like fireworks, and to help include veterans in the planning process of celebrations with explosives.

Also in 2015, an Illinois-based nonprofit Military with PTSD developed the Explosion of Kindness campaign — an effort to raise awareness about the PTSD-fireworks link among civilians. That summer, the group distributed 2,500 signs across the country, each one reading, “Combat Veteran Lives Here; Please Be Courteous” that veterans could post in their front yard, to help encourage a healthy relationship between veterans and their neighbors.

For animals adversely affected by fireworks, some tips for helping your companions through the noisy celebrations are to keep them indoors or at least leashed/harnessed with constant supervision in a fenced yard during fireworks. When possible, pet owners are encouraged to remain home with pets that may be jittery from the noise to comfort them, and maybe keep the blinds closed and lights on with the sounds of music or televsion playing. Special recordings for dogs, such as Through a Dog’s Ear, can help, as can a ThunderShirt — a stretchy garment that can alleviate anxiety.

Some cities have even gone as far as to modernize their celebrations by switching to silent fireworks or other displays such as laser-light shows. The town of Collecchio in Northern Italy made headlines when it passed a law requiring that fireworks be silent, and in Britain, many venues that are close to animal farms, wildlife habitats or residential areas permit only quiet displays.

Silent or quiet fireworks displays can be even more colorful and mesmerizing than noisy ones because the large explosions needed to create the huge booms destroy some of the chemical compounds that create fireworks’ brilliant colors. Quiet displays often emphasize artistry and choreography and can be timed to accompany music.

In the Tri-Lakes the regularly scheduled fireworks will be held Monday, July 3 in Tupper Lake and Tuesday, July 4 in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.


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