There are very few people in the veterinary business and animal welfare who like fireworks. Every year around Guy Fawkes, but now increasingly at other times of the year, especially New Year, the number of animals brought in to veterinary hospitals spikes. Furthermore, the number of pets reported lost or missing because they escape and run away from the noise, is also increasing. While the problem was unavoidable in the past, modern silent fireworks present a workable option to make everyone happy.
Why do animals freak out?
The reason is simple: animals hear the bangs and cracks and fizzes of the fireworks and panic. This panic causes them to do things which get them hurt or killed; for example, jump (or try to jump) through windows and glass doors, scale high walls, run in traffic, dash through fields, and chew door frames and burglar bars. They’ll do anything to get away.
And the carnage is not limited to pets. Wild animals and farm animals experience similar casualty rates when fireworks are in the air.
So, every year the animal lovers campaign against fireworks, and every year the festival- and party-goers complain about having their fun ruined.
Now, it is possible to desensitise certain pets to the noise of fireworks. But it requires a lot of training, patience and consistent and, unfortunately, many owners lack the expertise to successfully desensitise their dogs to noise. Furthermore, certain pets simply do not have the correct temperament for such training, or the fear is related to other behavioural or physical problems that can’t be solved through one avenue of training.
So, what is a spectacular celebration for some involves a trip to the vet and possible heartbreak for others.
But what if I told you fireworks don’t have to be noisy?
You read that correctly. Silent fireworks are a reality now. Strictly speaking, they are not really silent. They’re more correctly termed ‘low noise’ fireworks, as you can see on this clip from Epic Fireworks, a UK-based firework supplier.
It’s very difficult, nigh impossible, to make fireworks completely silent. After all, they are essentially controlled explosions. But they are a great deal quieter than conventional fireworks. In fact, they are even quieter than a busy motorway or a loud television.
They’re more of a pop and a fizzle than a bang or a boom, and they still have all the spectacular light effects we’ve come to associate with a traditional fireworks display. Since the primary cause of alarm is noise, animal injuries associated with silent fireworks are practically nil.
Veterinary associations and animal rights groups recommend silent fireworks. The Edinburgh Council is investigating making their use compulsory, as are Disneyland Paris and several other organisations. The Italian town of Collecchio has even made it mandatory for citizens to use silent fireworks instead of the noisy kind.
But silent fireworks cost the Earth, right?
That’s the surprising part. No, they don’t. If you check a typical supplier you’ll see that low-noise fireworks compete in cost quite well with conventional ones. It’s the way they explode (slower, so less noise) not the constituent chemicals that account for the difference in noise, so price differences will not hit your budget very hard.
Okay, you convinced me. Now what?
Obviously, the thing to do is vote with your wallet. Merchants stock what people buy, and if everyone is buying silent fireworks, that’s what they’ll stock. As a result of increased availability, more consumers will want to try them out instead of the boom-bang-scare-the-critters variety.
Encourage any organisations who are likely to use fireworks (school boards, hotels, etc.) to consider low-noise fireworks. Apart from anything else, the good PR from considering more animal-friendly options might be valuable to them.
Complain. Often. Don’t let a noisy fireworks display pass without a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, or your elected representative, or possibly the police. Take to social media and start an online petition. Slacktivism does work! Check your local laws regarding locations, times and noise levels where fireworks are concerned, and report violations diligently.
The next thing to do is contact the people who can pass by-laws. Councillors, your mayor, anyone who can put pressure on the public to go for the low-noise option. In the long run, a successful career in local politics depends upon giving the voters what they ask for. So make sure you ask for changes that matter to you and your furry loved ones.
Silent fireworks are a great option and one of the rare opportunities to mutually benefit all parties without ruining someone else’s night. We strongly endorse their use.