WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, June 30, 2020 — For Americans everywhere, the Fourth of July is a joyous time to celebrate our freedom with family, fun, food and – of course –fireworks. The temptation to indulge in all these pleasures is even stronger this year, as millions have isolated themselves indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cities across the country are reporting a significant spike in fireworks usage, with some, like Milwaukee, seeing a more than 600% increase.
While these colorful booms and bangs are entertaining for most of us and may help blow off some of our pent-up stresses and anxieties, they can be harmful and even dangerous to others, including America’s many veterans seeking to cope with Post-Traumatic Stress. Sudden loud sounds, rocket whistles, and explosions can cause anxiety for veterans and trigger flashbacks to traumatic events, which, for some, have even prompted suicide attempts.
American Humane, which has worked to support the U.S. military for more than a century, and trains service dogs to help veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury, recommends that those who intend to celebrate with fireworks take into consideration the veterans who live in their communities, moving the festivities further away from their homes, or opting to purchase so-called “silent fireworks,” which provide dazzling light shows without the percussive booms. Your consideration will be well appreciated by our vets’ service dogs, as well, since animals are very sensitive to fireworks. In fact, July 5 is the busiest day of the year at animal shelters as many of our best friends flee in fright from their homes. For veterans who rely on their lifesaving service dogs during this stressful time, such an occurrence could be more than alarming.
This Fourth of July, as we celebrate our freedom, let’s remember those who fought for that freedom and give them some independence from this one aspect of an otherwise joyous celebration.