Keep People & Pets Safe During July 4th Fireworks

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July 4th fireworks are an all-American tradition, but while these colorful explosions are fun and exciting, they can also be dangerous.  When you think about the Fourth of July, you probably envision picnics, fun on the water, American flags, a hometown parade and — of course — fireworks. July 4th fireworks are an all-American tradition, but while these colorful explosions are fun and exciting, they can also be dangerous.

Here are some smart, practical tips on how to stay safe when fireworks are involved:
1. Leave the fireworks to the professionals.  When it comes to consumer fireworks, laws and regulations vary by state. In most places, anyone 16 years or older can purchase some form of fireworks, but that doesn't mean you should. Thousands of people, particularly kids and young adults under 20, are seriously injured by fireworks every year. According to the National Safety Council, the majority of these injuries are due to amateurs attempting to set off professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, but less-powerful devices like small firecrackers and sparklers are responsible for hundreds of incidents as well.  Long story short, unless you're a licensed pyrotechnician, you shouldn't be handling these explosive materials.

2. Consider safer alternatives to sparklers.  It's easy to see why folks are drawn to handheld sparklers — they're bright, shiny and look cool in photos. The problem is that these sparklers are simply too hot and unpredictable to safely use in an amateur capacity — particularly when children are involved.  Fortunately, there are some spectacular sparkler alternatives that are fun, festive and — most importantly — safe. Glow sticks, such as this bargain-priced party pack from the PartySticks store, are the ultimate in glow-in-the-dark fun.  Not only do PartySticks glow sticks glow brightly for 10-14 hours, they're also nontoxic and won't leak. Wear them as necklaces, decorate your bike with them, make chains of them for the front of your house — the possibilities are endless.  Confetti party poppers are another way to celebrate the holiday with a (safe!) bang. Confetti Cannons offers a 12-pack of poppers that use compressed air to shoot streamers up to 10 feet.

3. Don't get caught in the dark.  Whether you're attending a neighborhood block party or watching fireworks on the beach, it's important that you and your family can be easily seen. Lighting at dusk is often confusing to drivers and even bikers, so it's crucial to use reflective gear or other lighting sources if possible.  For hot summer nights, SUNFREEP's reflective sash helps with visibility in the dark without adding any bulk.  And while the fireworks are what lights up the sky, you'll need a flashlight to light where you'll be walking. 

4. Be proactive about the safety and comfort of your pets.  If your dog gets scared by loud, booming noises, she's not alone. According to a survey from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, nearly 1 in 5 lost pets went missing after being scared by the sound of loud noises such as thunderstorms or fireworks.  If your pooch has anxiety around July 4th fireworks, taking a few preventive steps can make all the difference. Zesty Paws makes calming bites that contain natural, organic ingredients that help safely and effectively ease your dog's anxiety, nerves and fear.  These turkey-flavored treats also contain organic hemp, kelp, Valerian root and chamomile — all of which can help your dog relax without making her feel drowsy. As with any pet product, these treats should be given only as instructed; and if your pup's condition worsens or does not improve, stop administrating and consult your veterinarian.  Another popular pet anxiety aid is the classic Thundershirt. It applies gentle, constant pressure to calm your pet — no drugs or training required.  Ideally, your dog will be safe and cozy inside when any fireworks are going off. If your pet will be in a fenced-in yard, make sure there are no gaps or unsecured doors.  All pets should be microchipped and wear a collar with their owner's contact information, but a GPS tracker can provide additional peace of mind in case your dog ever does escape.