As preparations are being made to commemorate the country's independence on Thursday, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue officials are urging residents to have a heightened awareness of how fireworks impact veterans and pets.
Fireworks produce sounds similar to gunshots, which can cause physical and mental distress to those who have experienced combat, TVF&R officials said in a release. Responses to traumatic events vary from person to person, but TVF&R Capt. Andrew Klein advised those using fireworks to be mindful and respectful of those who may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
"Unexpected and random loud noises can cause combat veterans to become anxious or initiate a fight-or-flight response," said Klein, who served as a chief warrant officer with the Army National Guard. "A planned community fireworks display is much more tolerable because it is predictable and is a patriotic-themed celebration of our country."
Fireworks also tend to frighten pets, including farm animals, and can cause them anxiety and stress as they are unable to comprehend what is going on.
"If you insist on setting off fireworks, be aware of your own pet(s) and your neighbors' and try to limit the quantity and length of time fireworks will be set off," the release said.
Instead of lighting your own fireworks, TVF&R officials suggested attending a professional display on the Fourth, including shows set for the St. Paul Rodeo and events in TVF&R's service area at Cook Park in Tigard and Willamette Park in West Linn.
Also, dry summer weather means an increased risk of fires, prompting TVF&R to offer some fireworks safety tips to ensure a safe holiday:
Just because some fireworks are legal, doesn't mean they're 100 percent safe. This includes sparklers, which reach temperatures of 1,200 degrees.
Only adults should light or handle fireworks. Supervise children at all times.
Use fireworks outdoors on a paved surface, away from buildings, vehicles and vegetation.
Never pick up or try to re-light a "dud."
Never alter fireworks or make your own.
Have a hose nearby in case of fire and place "spent" fireworks in a metal bucket of water.
Report firework incidents in TVF&R's service area
Individuals needing to report a fire or medical emergency should call 9-1-1; individuals wishing to report a nuisance or concern about illegal fireworks should do so via TVF&R's non-emergency number, 503-629-0111. These situations will be logged, passed on to local law enforcement and responded to as resources allow.
Penalties for misusing fireworks
Law enforcement agencies enforce criminal laws related to the use of illegal fireworks in Oregon. Under Oregon law, officers can seize illegal fireworks and issue criminal citations, including reckless burning, criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and more with fines up to $500 per violation. People can also be held civilly liable for damages resulting from improper use of any fireworks — legal or illegal.
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