Happy New Year! Every New Year’s and Fourth of July I rant about people setting off fireworks nearby which threatens homes and frightens pets, wild animals, and birds. However, this was the worst New Year’s ever for fireworks and for the first time, these dangerous nuisances were set off on my street.
Why does this upset me? Here in Georgia, fireworks that shoot into the air are illegal (except for licensed professional displays) and with good reason. The potential for injury and property damage is great, especially when they are set off in neighborhoods where houses are close together. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks were responsible for over 17,000 fires in 2011, and over 8,700 emergency room visits in 2012.
Yes, I’m afraid an errant rocket or falling ash will burn down my house but it’s more than that. When fireworks are booming and flashing, I think of the chipmunks and rabbits cowering in their burrows, the birds and squirrels quaking in trees, and frightened deer believing they are being pursued by an army of hunters. When I hear my neighbor’s dog barking and see my cats hiding under furniture in fear, I think of terrified stray animals that have no one to comfort them. New Year’s a time to celebrate, but who says we have to do it by courting danger and frightening animals?