Is it time to ditch fireworks? Animal lover calls for 'kinder alternatives' after rabbit 'died of fright'

Many of us will have seen fireworks being set off to celebrate the New Year – but is it now time to ditch them and look for safer, kinder alternatives?

I remember as a child going to see the council organised display in the Marine Park and standing with sparklers in my hand in my garden with my mam, dad, sister and brother.

I didn’t understand at that time why not everyone liked them, they were colourful, noisy and exciting, but I do remember that some children in my class hated them.

Fast forward now 40 (plus!) years and I understand much better the devastating effect fireworks can have – on people, on animals and on our environment.

The case for kinder alternatives

Across social media, in the lead up to traditional bonfire night or Christmas we see pleas from animal and veteran organisations to look for alternatives.

The RSCPA are currently running a campaign called Bang Out of Order to raise awareness of the distress caused and the needless deaths of animals all over the country.

My group is running Lottie’s Campaign in memory of our rabbit who died of fright this New Year due to a barrage of fireworks being set off close to where we live.

We also support a national campaign which has had regular debates in parliament to look at restrictions.

Newcastle used a laser show, which could be seen along the Tyne in South Tyneside, to mark the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022. The city's fireworks display was cancelled due to omicron, but leaders said the laser show allowed social-distancing.

Now, it isn’t about being a killjoy as fireworks can be absolutely beautiful.

But it is about taking responsibility and being aware of the consequences.

With all of the technology available to us now, can’t we do something safer and equally creative?

Indeed, we were made aware of the laser show over the river at New Year and we saw a fantastic light show on TV which was happening in London (albeit combined with fireworks).

A lot of people push ‘silent fireworks’ as the answer – but they don’t actually exist.

There are ‘low-noise’ fireworks which are around 70 to 85 decibels but these are equally damaging to the environment.

Traditional fireworks have a 120 decibel limit (this is equivalent to a jet engine during take-off) – hearing loss can occur at 85 decibels.

Through my work I come across many sad-but-avoidable stories of animals dying of fright when fireworks are set off.

We also come across the debris when we are litter picking as they are set off in woodlands around the borough.

And we all know that familiar smell of gunpowder in the air mixed with all of the chemicals to create the colours.

With all of the things we know about air pollution, why would we want to add to it?

I think part of the issue too, is that fireworks used to be confined to one date in the year but they are now set off for lots of other reasons – Christmas and New Year, special birthdays, weddings, religious events as well as the week long build up to Bonfire Night.

Knowing all of this, should we now be looking at technology as the way forward?

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