When you think of the Fourth of July, there are probably a few strong traditions that come to mind. First, obviously, is the food.
The holiday is the perfect time for burgers, hot dogs, and even some grilled veggie burgers. But a close second? The fireworks.
Many big cities and beach locations have an annual show. It’s usually fun to see — and there are plenty of traditions that go along with it. For one, every year, you’re reminded of the fact that taking photos of the fireworks is a little pointless. (That is, unless you enjoy grainy photos of faint red and blue blobs in the night sky.)
It can also be a fun time you share with your family. But there’s something worth talking about. And that is, the fireworks that also go off in your neighborhood the weeks leading up to July Fourth. Also, the fireworks that happen to go on throughout all of July and into August.
In many states, firework displays that don’t get the approval of the state fire marshal are considered illegal. Yet that doesn’t stop certain neighbors from trying to create their own cripplingly loud memories.
It may be an unpopular choice, but maybe you should consider going another route this year. And it has nothing to do with patriotism but everything to do with safety. Here are eight things to consider.
1. They're Often Illegal
The rules behind fireworks vary state by state — however, most authorities aren’t too fond of fireworks that are unprofessionally lit and displayed. For states that have legalized fireworks, there are still plenty of loopholes and fine print that people need to abide by for it to really be legal. For example, Ohio allows only “novelty” fireworks for backyard events. Everything else requires a license.
2. They Can Be Upsetting to Dogs
Many dogs can’t mentally handle fireworks — and some are even prone to running away the second they hear them. Merchandise like the Thunder Shirt exists solely to help calm dogs during these tough moments. If you love dogs (and who doesn’t?), it’s important to keep in mind that the fireworks you’re exploding for fun might be putting plenty of neighborhood pups in a panic.
3. They're Also Disruptive for Kids
Many kids are interested in big displays. But if there’s nothing to visibly see, they could get agitated over the noise. The same goes for babies. Sometimes, getting a baby down to sleep can take hours. By setting off fireworks in the afternoon — especially before or after the Fourth of July — you’re disturbing the peace.
If the fireworks are incredibly close to your home, they’re not all that great for a newborn’s hearing, either. “All loud sounds are bad news for infants, who have delicate eardrums and can easily suffer future hearing loss if not protected,” states Fatherly.
4. They're Triggering for People With PTSD
Both veterans and gun violence victims might not know how to react when hearing the sound of fireworks. For many, it can transport them back to an upsetting and life-changing moment they’ve experienced. According to the University of Michigan Health, approximately 7% to 8% of people suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The situation may be easier for PTSD sufferers if they’re alerted about the fireworks beforehand. For example, most people are likely aware of fireworks happening on the Fourth of July. But they may be taken by surprise if fireworks go off on July 10.
5. They're Dangerous
A lot of people know how to handle fireworks safely. But many don’t. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in 2018, 9,100 injuries happened due to fireworks.
Fireworks can also be deadly. That same year, five people died after using reloadable aerial devices. If you think about the risk versus reward, it’s fairly low. Sure, you get to light something and have it make a loud noise. But you might end up losing a few fingers — or worse.
6. They Can Easily Cause Fires
If you live in a place that’s dry, fireworks are an especially bad idea. The National Fire Protection Association states that 19,500 fires were caused by fireworks in 2018. In total, $105 million in direct property was damaged. Before you use fireworks, think about whether or not you’d be able to financially afford to damage your home or cause issues in the neighborhood.
7. Fireworks Have an Environmental Impact
If you care about pollution and our environment, you may want to think twice before lighting fireworks this year. Terrapass, which facilitates carbon offsets, knows a lot about the damage that fireworks can cause. “Fireworks cause extensive air pollution in a short amount of time, leaving metal particles, dangerous toxins, harmful chemicals, and smoke in the air for hours and days,” the organization states. “Some of the toxins never fully decompose or disintegrate, but rather hang around in the environment, poisoning all they come into contact with.”
8. They're Shockingly Expensive
We’re in a rough period of time right now. People are losing jobs and forced to cancel big plans. People are still getting sick. Spending money on fireworks instead of bills or health care might not be a wise decision this year.
So how much are decent at-home fireworks displays? Money says that they can often cost between $100 and $300. A popular firework in the $200 range is the Legion of Fire, which literally lasts under a minute.
Of course, there’s no limit on the amount that could be spent. Barring an injury or any sort of destruction, the fireworks likely won’t be that memorable after the night of. Wouldn’t you rather save that money for a decent vacation?