Independence Day is a marvelous time to celebrate all the freedoms we’ve been graced with – as well as to shop, barbecue, head to the beach, chow down with family and friends and enjoy some fireworks. But that doesn’t mean the holiday isn’t fraught with hazards for you and your four-legged, furry friends.
First, for the two-legged critters in the room, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have some safety tips.
- Propane and charcoal barbecue grills should be used only outdoors;
- The grill should be placed well away from the home and deck railings and out from under leaves and overhanging branches;
- Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from the grill area;
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill;
- Never leave your grill unattended while in use;
- Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting the grill;
- Always use food-approved fire starters for wood grills and smokers.
- Attend a local, professional fireworks show;
- Livestream a virtual fireworks show;
- Use glow sticks instead of sparklers;
- Resist the temptation to get close to the firing site as the best view of a professional fireworks display is from a quarter of a mile or more away;
- Do not possess or shoot off fireworks on your own. Besides risking injury to yourself and the crowd watching the demonstration, you will be breaking the law;
- Do not pick up or attempt to relight used or “dud” fireworks as they may still cause serious burns or injury.
And now for our four-legged friends, from Nicole Rigger, founder of Pets a Go Go, a fixture in Westchester and Fairfield counties:
With Fourth of July Sunday, many individuals are preparing for the occasion by stocking up on fireworks. While fireworks are an enjoyable and festive activity for humans, they can be terrifying and overwhelming for dogs. If your dog is afraid of other loud sounds in the environment like thunderstorms, there is a high likelihood he will also be scared of fireworks.
One of the main concerns dog owners have when it comes to fireworks is having their dog become so frightened, he tries to run to a quieter location, often getting lost in the process. A study found that 30% more pets become lost between July 4 and 6 than at any other time of the year. In an effort to prevent an event like this from occurring, we at Pets a Go Go, share these tips on how to keep your dog calm and anxiety-free during this noisy time.
- Keep your dog away from fireworks: Ultimately, the easiest way to keep your dog safe during this time is not to bring him to any live fireworks. Even if he has never experienced fireworks before and you are not sure how he is going to react, the safest bet is still keeping him indoors where you can see and monitor him.
- Create a safe haven: Set up a calm and comforting area for your dog somewhere in your house. The space should be away from windows so that he cannot see or hear the fireworks. He should be surrounded by favorite toys and treats. If you are concerned, we recommend you stay home with your dog during the fireworks. Your dog is comfortable with you, and even just your presence and soothing tone will help him to relax.
- Walk your dog prior to the noise: This is pretty self-explanatory, but you do not want to have to bring your dog outside during all the loud noise. We also recommend that you look into getting a lost-pet device/service so that if your dog were to run, he could be found easily.
- Desensitize your pooch: If you suspect that your dog may freak out, try playing soft sounds of fireworks beforehand so that your dog can get used to hearing them. The volume should be low enough that your dog notices the sound, but it does not send him into a panic.
- Talk to your trusted pet care professional: If you feel as though you have tried everything, and none of it seems to work, you may want to talk to your trusted pet care professional who specializes in dogs. This person can discuss behavioral practices and best tips that will sooth your dog’s anxiety during stressful times like these.
Not all dogs are scared of fireworks, but it is important to realize that dogs take cues from their owners. As long as you stay calm, there is a higher likelihood they will as well. We hope that you follow these tips and that you and your dog find ways to enjoy this upcoming Fourth of July.