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Fireworks – a mark of celebration or an out-dated tradition?

Image courtesy of The Independent

An upcoming debate in Parliament could see restrictions on firework sales. Each year, Bonfire Night opens up new discussions on whether fireworks should be banned due to the welfare of animals. People suffering from post traumatic stress disorder can also struggle with them.

In November 2019, over 300,000 people signed a petition for the Government to ban the sale of fireworks to members of the public. Any petition with over 100,000 signatures requires MPs to debate it in parliament. The debate will take place on 2nd November 2020.

A firework briefing from the RSPCA said: “Loud noises that are unpredictable and out of an animal’s control are particularly stressful. Animals are more sensitive to high frequency noise than humans. The RSPCA believes the law is failing as it does not prevent or reduce the risk of fireworks causing distress or anxiety to people, or death, injury or distress to animals.” In 2018, the RSPCA reported 411 calls in England and Wales on Bonfire night relating to stressed or injured animals.

The Kennel Club reported that 40% of dogs in the UK suffer from firework anxiety. They recommend consulting a vet if their advice below doesn’t prove effective.

Keeping your dog calm around Bonfire night. Image courtesy of The Kennel Club.

Jess took to Twitter on Friday night to say: “For the last few nights we’ve had fireworks go off in York. It is absolutely ridiculous for animals to have to endure this for more than three weeks. My dog shot up the stairs and was outside my room because he gets anxiety and shakes. Fireworks should only be used for professional displays. I believe they should be banned to avoid them being set off at silly hours and weeks before.”

Fireworks on Bonfire Night are used to represent the 36 gun powder barrels that didn’t blow up the House of Parliament on 5th November 1605. It is a tradition used to celebrate this historic event.

Knowing the rules that local councils have in place for fireworks can help reduce the stress for animals nearby and still provide a celebration for this tradition. For York, fireworks can be set off between 7am and 11pm, extending to midnight on Bonfire Night. Setting off fireworks outside these times is illegal and the Police can enforce fines or imprisonment depending on the circumstances.

York City Council is advising residents to follow Government guidelines to not host Bonfire Night celebrations in private with people from outside household or support bubbles.

If celebrating Bonfire Night, purchasing reduced noise fireworks will help with firework anxiety for people and animals. Only watching professional firework displays will also help with this and reduce the risk of firework related injuries that could put a strain on the NHS.

Elvington Airfield is playing host to ‘Autumn Lights Drive-In‘. Billed as “York’s biggest fireworks extravaganza”, it takes place from 5:30pm on 5th November and complies with Government guidelines as it is drive-in only. Fireworks, hot air balloons, and a range of competitions will be part of the event that charges £30 per car. Further details and ticket information can be found on the official Facebook event.

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