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Pets and people suffering from PTSD are among often incur anxiety from loud noises

PMG FILE PHOTO - Officials recommend people take in community fireworks displays as they are safe, legal and designed for everyone to enjoy.Woodburn Police have joined other agencies, including the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue and Oregon State Fire Marshall's Office, in reminding Independence Day celebrants to be safe, legal and courteous.

TVF&R spokeswoman Kim Haughn stressed that as folks prepare to commemorate the country's independence on July 4, the department urges residents to have a heightened awareness of how fireworks may impact combat veterans and pets.COURTESY OF OREGON STATE FIRE MARSHALS OFFICE - Oregon State Fire Marshal Jim Walker

"Fireworks produce sounds similar to gunshots, which can cause physical and mental distress to those who have experienced combat," Haughn noted. "Response to traumatic events vary from person to person, but everyone should be mindful and respectful of those who may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)."

Woodburn Police also encourage people to be cognizant of the issue and courteous.

"For individuals with PTSD, those explosions and loud displays can raise anxiety levels and even trigger traumatic memories of gunfire, bombings and other terrifying conditions," WPD spokesman Tommy Moore wrote.

Haughn added that noise from fireworks often frightens pets, farm animals and some wildlife.

"The loud noises can cause them great anxiety and stress, since they are unable to comprehend what is going on," Haughn explained. "If you insist on setting off fireworks, be aware of your own pets and your neighbors' and try to limit the quantity and length of time fireworks will be set off."

Most agencies recommend that people enjoy community firework displays rather than set of their own. Community displays are orchestrated and conducted at a given time, which doesn't trigger nearly as much stress does setting off random fireworks.

"Your typical city or community firework show isn't usually a problem, as they're planned for specific times and locations, allowing people to plan accordingly," Moore noted.

TVF&R Captain Andrew Klein agreed.

"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."

For those who do plan to set off personal fireworks, it is recommended to restrict their use to legal ones.

"I want to remind all Oregonians that consumer legal fireworks can only be purchased from Oregon permitted fireworks retailers and stands," State Fire Marshal Jim Walker said. "And, regulations limit where those fireworks may be used. Fire risk in Oregon is already high, and as the weeks go by that risk will only increase, so there is no room for error in fireworks safety."

Oregon law prohibits the possession, use, or sale of any firework that flies into the air, explodes, or travels more than 12 feet horizontally on the ground, without a permit issued by the OSFM. Fireworks commonly called bottle rockets, Roman candles, and firecrackers are illegal in Oregon.

OSFM spokesman Rudy Owens noted that over the last five years there were 1,264 reported fireworks-related fires in Oregon recorded by fire agencies. Those blazes resulted in over $3.5 million in property damage, 26 injuries and a fatality.

Owens added that officials who seize illegal fireworks can charge offenders with a class B misdemeanor, a fine of up to $2,500 per violation and a civil penalty of up to $500. Those who misuse fireworks or allow fireworks to cause damage are liable and may be required to pay fire suppression costs or other damage.

Parents are also liable for fireworks damage caused by their children. 

"All Oregonians share the responsibility to use only consumer legal fireworks and use them carefully," adds Walker. "We encourage you to be aware and considerate of neighbors and their pets before deciding on when and where you choose to light legal fireworks."

Sidebar

So how can I help?

The City has the following suggestions for those looking to celebrate this 4th of July:

Instead of lighting your own fireworks, attend one of the many professional displays taking place around Woodburn or across the state.

If you want to light your own, plan for it specifically on the 4th, as it's the day most assume to hear them going off.

Safety First

If you are planning for personal use, please remember the following safety tips courtesy of the National Safety Council:

Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol

Never allow young children to handle fireworks

Older children should use them only under close adult supervision

Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear

Never light them indoors

Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material

Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting

Never ignite devices in a container

Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks

Soak unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding

Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire

Be safe in your personal use. But really it's usually best to save your money instead of buying grocery store fireworks and let the pros put on an awesome display.

--Woodburn Police


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