Happy 4th of July!

Celebrate safely with fireworks

Each year fireworks injure or kill numerous people. They are fun and beautiful to look at, but they are dangerous. Americans spend an estimated $1.4 billion on fireworks each year. Although it is recommended to leave the fireworks to the experts, consumer fireworks are legal to buy in Alabama. If you choose to shoot your own fireworks, precautions need to be taken to ensure no one gets hurt.

The National Safety Council has provided the following safety tips:

• Never allow young children to handle fireworks.

• If older children use fireworks, it should be under the close supervision of an adult.

• Use protective eyewear if using fireworks or standing nearby.

• Do not use while impaired by drugs or alcohol.

• Never hold fireworks in your hands.

• Never light fireworks indoors.

• Only light one firework at a time.

• Do not try and relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks.

• Never light fireworks in a container.

• Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby for those that malfunction or in case of a fire.

Young children love sparklers, but did you know they are extremely dangerous? Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees Farenheit. That is hot enough to melt some metals. And, sparklers can quickly ignite clothing or children can receive burns on their feet from dropping them. It is recommended that a safer alternative, such as glow sticks, confetti poppers, or colored streamers be used.

As celebrations can be seen and heard this Fourth of July, remember that being safe is important for your family, but it is also a time to remember that animals and those suffering from PTSD do not enjoy the loud noises.

Those suffering from PTSD may have a heightened response; therefore, the fireworks may trigger a state of hyper vigilance or arousal, produce nightmares or insomnia, create a negative change in moods, generate intrusive thoughts of trauma, or send them into a state of avoidance or social isolation.

For dogs, fireworks are not so fun. The loud booms and flashing lights scare them. Four of the main reasons dogs are scared of fireworks include:

1. They are loud. Since dogs have a more acute sense of hearing, the loud booms, bangs, and crackles alarm them.

2. Fireworks are unpredictable. The sudden loud noises and flashing of fireworks can be very alarming to a dog.

3. The unpredictability poses a threat. Dogs may bark, try to run away, or have the fight-or-flight response triggered. Dogs may also show signs of anxiety such as being restless, panting, pacing, or whining.

4. Fireworks may make a dog feel trapped. On holidays that fireworks are popular, there is often nowhere to go. They can still hear loud booms echoing all around them.

Fireworks are beautiful and fun, but it is important to take all safety precautions possible and remember that not every person or creature enjoys the unpredictability of loud noises, sights, and sounds.