Bonfire night provides delight to many across the world. From warm Donughts’ to thick Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows, what’s not to love? But there’s perhaps a dark side we don’t think about – posing the question – should we ban them?
Politicians are constantly discussing Climate Change linking plastic waste to air quality and ocean toxicity, yet fail to mention fireworks create a shower of toxic chemicals, which unsurprisingly, contain plastic.
Firework smoke is rich with tiny metal particles which are used to make the bright colours. The fireworks that fall to the ground contain residue of unburnt propellants and colourants resulting in plastic being littered in the streets, lakes and of course, animals habitats.
Combined, these can add further to our current environmental problems.
However, this isn’t the only issue that remains at the heart of the debate.
Recently, Fiona McFarlane posted a video showing her followers the effects it has on animals. After millions watched the distressing video of her dog crying and shaking, one Facebook user said:
“Fireworks are fine but it’s called bonfire night, not bonfire month. My first dog used to cower in the furthest possible corner of the house and wouldn’t come out for hours – this video is so sad but necessary to show the true effects of fireworks have on animals.”
Another emphasised: “To everyone commenting that the owner should stop filming and comfort/cuddle the dog…THAT DOESN’T WORK! The poor animals are utterly terrified and shut down. Speaking from having to endure the exact same situation with two greyhounds, the only thing that does work and stops the trauma is stopping the fireworks!”
The ears of most animals are significantly more sensitive than our own. Fireworks can permanently affect their acute sense of hearing, causing them to feel scared, resulting in them running away.
Fiona Hohmann lost her horse, Solo, when he ran away from an unplanned fireworks display where he was later found in a distressed condition.
She said: “I don’t want to spoil people’s fun. On Bonfire night you can prepare for fireworks and just get on with it but they should not be going off a week after bonfire night. How was I supposed to know that a display would be happening?
Mrs Hohmann heard some fireworks on Saturday night but didn’t realise the scale of the event.
“On Saturday night he was alone and he was able to run loose on two fields. When the vet arrived they said that they were left with no choice but to put him down. He was in so much pain he would have died within the next hour.
“The vet told me that he twisted his gut in panic from the noise. He was suffering alone for 14 hours. He had galloped round the field so much all the grass was all chewed up. I feel terrible that he suffered all night alone, there was just nothing that I could do.”
Not only can this time of year cause death and distress to animals, it can have the same effect on the public, just as it did in 2017 when Anthony Nicholls, 56, died after a 200-shot commercial firework destroyed his house, leaving him in an induced coma. He never regained consciousness and died five days later.
Greater Manchester’s chief constable, Ian Hopkins believes they should be banned and restricted to professional displays.
“We need to restrict the sales to young people who think it is acceptable to go around and terrorise communities. The answer cannot be that more firefighters and more police officers turn up to deal with this and people are scared to go out of their homes.”
A petition calling for a ban on the public use of fireworks has received almost 200,000 signatures in January which lead to a debate in the House of Commons. However, a spokesman for the Government said: “We take the issue of fireworks safety very seriously. There is legislation in place that controls the sale, use and misuse of fireworks; we have no plans to extend this further.”
So what do you think? Should they be restricted to licensed events only or free to all? Perhaps your pet has experienced similar issues.