Fireworks Not Fun For Everyone

The pageantry and beauty is what makes watching fireworks a timeless tradition. While the spectacle is often enjoyed on a grand scale, especially on the Fourth of July, it can also create a traumatic experience for pet owners. Those same abundance of sounds and colors also create disturbances for pets.

“July is one of our biggest months of the year for stray animals, specifically around the days around the Fourth of July,” said Janna Haynes, Communications and Media Officer for the Sacramento County Animal Shelter.

In the immediate days before and after the holiday, shelters typically notice a spike in strays because of the use of fireworks. Pets become scared from the brightness and loud noises, even for those that normally would not run or get out of the yard.

“The number one thing we encourage is to make sure your pet is microchipped because if they do get out we can reunite you with them immediately,” Haynes said.

While this relates primarily to dogs, cats are also prone to being scared of fireworks, as are other small and large animals. Pet owners are encouraged to leave their pets with trusted sources, such as a family/friend or in a kennel, if leaving out of town for the holiday.

Here are some other helpful tips to ease stress for pets on the Fourth of July:

  • Make sure pets are microchipped and wearing identification tags
  • Keep them indoors
  • Never leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard
  • Don’t take them to a fireworks show
  • Play music or leave television on to drown out firework noise
  • Consult with veterinarian prior to July 4 if pet is distressed by loud noises

Aside from pets, fireworks can also do significant harm to humans and property. Nearly 70 percent of firework-related injuries occur within a month of July 4. On average, seven people die each year due to fireworks and another 700 seek medical care.

Fireworks Safety Tips:

  • Use only State Fire Marshal approved fireworks
  • Local ordinances should be verified before purchasing and/or using fireworks
  • Always read directions
  • Always have an adult present
  • Only use fireworks outdoors
  • Never use near dry grass or other flammable materials
  • Light one at a time
  • Have a bucket of water and a hose nearby

Fireworks Injury Prevention:

  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse
  • Back up several feet immediately after lighting fireworks
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person
  • Never experiment with fireworks
  • Never attempt to re-light or “fix” fireworks
  • Do not wear loose fitting clothing while lighting fireworks
  • Never carry fireworks in your pockets


Additional resources



Jonathan Gudel

Jonathan Gudel is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). Since joining Cal OES, he has assisted in the response and recovery efforts of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, the state's historic drought, the Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, unprecedented winter storms in 2017, the 2017 October (Sonoma County) and December (Santa Barbara County) wildfires, and the Camp Fire in 2018. Previously, he worked in the newspaper industry for 12 years.

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