Memorial Day Weekend marks the beginning of many warm-weather activities -the lazy days of summer, long weekends, enjoying nature, peace and relaxation, gatherings with family and friends. Interspersed in these activities is something that is costly to all of us – fireworks.
Why do we celebrate with fireworks which actually recreates the sounds and lights of war and violence? (“the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air”)
Legend has it that Captain John Smith set off the first fireworks display in the American colonies in Jamestown, Virginia in 1608. He and other settlers used the fireworks to celebrate special events. Fireworks were used in the very first 4th of July celebration in 1776.
We know to be cautious using fireworks to prevent fires or accidents. But beyond the obvious, there are much more severe side effects to consider:
- Our Environment
Fire work activity
- increases the concentration of particulate matter in the air we breathe.
- increases harmful gaseous concentrations, carbon monoxide (toxic by hindering a living organism's ability to transport oxygen throughout its body), and nitric oxide (toxic by inhalation and skin absorption).
- Our Mental Health
Loud bangs are indicative of danger, and for many, fireworks are a psychological trigger. This is especially true for veterans, people living in neighborhoods plagued by gun violence, and those who had been victims of gun violence. Fireworks can have negative implications, including poor heart health and worsened mental health problems.
Individuals with PTSD may be especially at risk of negative outcomes from fireworks. PTSD symptoms include having an exaggerated startle response and being tense or on edge most of the time. This means that fireworks can be especially startling for people with PTSD symptoms.
- Our Animals
Pets: Some dogs and cats will have a fight-or-flight response to fireworks. This is a very real adrenaline rush, causing their blood pressure and heart rate to rise. Some pets can panic and cause injury to themselves while trying to escape, some may run away, and some may react with aggression
Wildlife: The shock of fireworks can cause wildlife to flee, ending up in unexpected areas or roadways, flying into buildings and other obstacles, and even abandoning nests, leaving young vulnerable to predators.
Consider alternative ways to celebrate this year
- Glow sticks. A colorful alternative that can easily be found online and in retail stores are glow sticks. ...
- Elephant toothpaste. ... (recipe below) Expands! Color the mixture for a more celebratory impact.
1/2 cup 20-volume hydrogen peroxide liquid (20-volume is a 6% solution; you can get this from a beauty supply store or hair salon) 1 Tablespoon (one packet) of dry yeast. 3 Tablespoons of warm water. Liquid dishwashing soap.
- Red, white and blue piñata. ...
- Laser light show. ...
- Confetti poppers. ...
- Drone show.
- Blowing bubbles. ...