New registration scheme may help.

A new registration scheme is being considered by North East Derbyshire District Council. In an attempt to regulate firework use they are asking the public to register if they are planning to use fireworks. It obviously won’t do anything to combat ‘misuse’, it might however help notify people and pet owners of the random and unexpected use by the public. Most community and local events are amply advertised for the revenue. So this a small step in the right direction. Please find time to thank the council for their forward thinking.

Their facebook posts says, “NEDDC is putting together plans to introduce a voluntary Bonfire and Firework Display Registration Scheme to combat the misuse of fireworks and safely regulate those attending bonfire events and wishing to let off fireworks in the District.” 

https://www.ne-derbyshire.gov.uk/news-and-media/latest-news/council-to-regulate-the-impact-of-fireworks-with-the-introduction-of-a-registration-scheme

Councils and MPs Pushing for Carbon Neutral, we Salute Thee. Please Restrict Fireworks as Part of Environmental Changes

According to the BBC, “The UK is the first major nation to formally back a pledge to cut carbon emissions to practically zero in just over 30 years. As well as clearing the air of harmful fumes, the scheme – according to one expert on climate change – will also have surprising knock-on effects for the population as a whole.” That’s great but as we hear, it needs to be much faster than 30 years. And per a news report today, Finland has halved that. “Finland has pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2035 – that’s twice as fast as the UK government target. But to achieve this, it will have to make big changes..” As will we all. We need dramatic and rapid attitudinal and behavioural changes from individuals, government, local councils and business to save the planet.

On the news last weekend, it was even more encouraging to hear that many UK cities, such as Glasgow, Birmingham, Oxford and other councils are themselves pledging to be carbon neutral far sooner than the UK government target. Good on them! It does need to be now! As we have seen this week at the World Economic Forum and you can see the speech yourself at this link, where Prince Charles said, we need a “paradigm shift”. “We simply cannot waste any more time. The only limit is our willingness to act. And the time to act is now.” People of the world, we need to radically change the way we live and behave – we need to stop our lives of convenience and start one of consideration for the environment and wildlife. There is also the global summit in Glasgow, so the UK will be in the spotlight. Many by 2030 – so in 10 years and some by 2028. Great. Let’s support them! 

One easy change is to stop throwing gasses, metals and chemicals into the air. To help our environment and protect our wildlife from dying of fear, we can massively reduce the use of fireworks. Many countries allow them only one day a year and yet the UK – embarrassingly allows them every day of the year! Shame on us. As per a blog we wrote on the environmental impact of fireworks, as well as one on how detrimental they are to protecting our wildlife, “One way we can [help the environment] is by stopping the use of fireworks, whose metals, gunpowder, chemicals and packaging pollute and damage our environment.” 

Just a few days ago, the Guardian wrote about the pollution from the London fireworks. “For four hours, the air was filled with tiny particles of the metals that are used to make firework colours. These included barium, copper and strontium that produce white, green, blue and red colours, along with potassium and chloride that are used as firework propellants. Air pollution from northern France also reached the city later in the day.” What is that doing to our lungs – the trees – and our own lungs, those of animals, birds, what is going into the river and then the ocean…?

So many other countries have far tighter regulations on fireworks usage than the UK and allow them only rarely. In many European countries, they can only be used on one or two days of the year. In Germany for example, “Shops are only allowed to sell fireworks, rockets, wheels or bangers in the time period from Dec. 28 to 31…” In the Netherlands too, they are banned all year apart from in special cases. The only day they are allowed is on New Year’s eve – and then only from 6pm until 2am.

So why oh why, does the UK, who is apparently one of the nations trying to limit its environmental impact, allow them ON EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE YEAR?! And without restriction?

Councils, government, please – you won’t be ruining people’s lives by reducing the amount they go off. And anyway, we are going to have to get used to far bigger changes to save the planet. People live quite happily in other countries without them! Fireworks are often shipped all the way over from China, the country with the highest carbon emissions. As per our blog and the Guardian article above, fireworks send toxins and metals into the environment. They scare birds, thousands of whom die by flying into stationary objects. We need to protect them. 

In this time of climate emergency, why not be like the Netherlands and ban them altogether, apart from rare circumstances? Or at least severely restrict them to a few days a year? Businesses will find other ways for people to have fun and fundraise! And one thing is for sure, we are going to have to make far bigger lifestyle changes than just stopping fireworks. And that’s the way competition and market forces work. It’s an easy step that doesn’t restrict our lives and that will improve the environment and the communities in which we live. 

We believe these may be some of the cities/councils going carbon neutral. Please write to your council and share this blog with them, particularly if they are one of those aiming to be carbon neutral – and if they aren’t why aren’t they. We are sure there are many more and would be happy to edit these as people find out more or less on this list. 

  • Nottingham
  • Bristol
  • Glasgow
  • City of York
  • Birmingham
  • Winchester – wants to look at how to reduce its carbon footprint
  • Exeter city
  • Manchester
  • Liverpool
  • Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council
  • Edinburgh
  • Lambeth Council
  • Kensington & Chelsea

Other things you can do to help make a difference:

  • Share this blog in every group you are in on social media and in emails – particularly those not related to fireworks, to reach new audiences
  • There have been 3 debates and a Petitions Commitee inquiry which the UK government are expected to reply in 2020. Now is the time to write to your MP and ask them to push the government to take drastic action. Reduce the number of days to just a handful a year and ban the sale to the public.
  • Write to your councils asking them to change what they allow. You can use the RSPCA template to ask them to change which are allowed and share the blogs we have written
  • Ask your friends and neighbours not to let them off or if they insist, to at least use those with lower bang ratings – which are available among most fireworks sellers and those that do displays
  • Support petitions 
  • Record every firework you hear through the year. FAB are collating this information for your MP letters.
  • Read more blogs on the impacts of fireworks and share these too: Environmental impact, impact on wildlife, impact on war veterans and sufferers of PTSD and on assistance dogs

Let’s look forward to a world with cleaner air, less noise and more consideration for wildlife and our environment.

Images by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Birds Die, Horses Panic, Wildlife Suffers. Humans Setting off Fireworks Terrify and Kill.

Often when I mention to people about the many groups that are negatively impacted by fireworks, I’ll say, “Imagine all the wild animals when fireworks go off. They have no shelter – horses, sheep, hedgehogs, birds…It must be terrifying for them when there is no natural sound like this – and they have no warning..” And so many people say, “I hadn’t thought of that.” 

Well here’s to get us all thinking about that. Often as humans, we focus on actions that impact humans. With fireworks, the government will say they are set at a safe decibel range (which incidentally does not seem to be agreed is safe by hearing charities) – but of course this is for humans. Not animals, with whom we share the planet – and are all part of our ecosystem.

Here’s the summary for those that won’t read on, but others please do: Thousands of birds have died from heart attacks or through panic and flying into things, when fireworks go off. Horses have bolted, some impaled. Hedgehogs been tied to fireworks and shot into the air. We are in a climate emergency where we have already lost 60% of the UK’s wildlife population. It’s not only humans on this planet. Take action – write to your MP and town councillors, tell people not to do them, sign every petition.

So, for everyone that continued, here is what you need to know..

Animals have a far higher hearing range. Their hearing is far more sensitive than ours. Dogs for example, can hear sounds 4 times farther away than we can and higher pitch sounds too. Birds can hear a wider range of sounds than humans and have better resolution than human hearing, so they hear much more detail and what is not loud to us can be loud and clear to them. Our beloved hedgehogs, who already are struggling at a tiny percentage of population compared to what they were, according to Louisiana State University, “Have a hearing frequency range between 250 and 45,000 Hz…it’s much higher than the human range of 23,000 Hz.” So all those sounds that are ‘OK’ to us (but are not really ok, if you read our other blogs regarding humans impacted), are that much worse, terrifying and unknown for animals. Fireworks aren’t natural. The only vaguely similar natural sound in the wild is thunder and that doesn’t go as high, as loud, nor like gunshots and everything else under the moon. How confusing would that be to you, if you were out in nature happily tucked up for the night, when something like that goes off??

We are in a climate emergency. According to the State of Nature Report, and a Guardian article in Oct 2019, about it, “Populations of the UK’s most important wildlife have plummeted by an average of 60% since 1970, according to the most comprehensive analysis to date…A quarter of UK mammals and nearly half of the birds assessed are at risk of extinction.” And apparently there are no signs of this getting better. Doesn’t this highlight that we humans need to protect the delicate habitat in which we live? Everything comes together – the different species need each other in the ecosystem. Stopping fireworks is one easy way!

So how are animals affected by fireworks – and particularly wildlife?

Let’s take a look at birds. Fireworks scare birds. Let’s not mess about with it. And particularly in winter, birds roost together on the cold nights. When fireworks go off they panic. Some research was done in the Netherlands on this and an article in Forbes refers to the impact on birds, of fireworks. “When a fireworks display occurs near a wild bird roost, the birds simultaneously explode into the night skies in utter panic, which can lead to huge numbers of deaths, usually because these birds either smash their skulls or break their necks as the result of flying into trees, fences, billboards, houses and other solid objects that they cannot see in the gloom and ensuing chaos. Probably the most infamous example of massive bird deaths after a fireworks display were the 5,000+ dead or dying red-winged blackbirds that rained down from the skies onto the small Arkansas town of Beebe in 2010, leading some residents to fear an impending apocalypse.” How dreadful. Half of birds are disappearing and we do this to them – and for no real benefit to us other than a few minutes’ ‘entertainment’? Aren’t their lives valuable, each and every one? We can find other ways to be entertained when lives are at risk. In Prague, they banned fireworks in the city centre, as swans were dying from heart attacks because of them. A friend from Prague said how awful it was to see birds lying dead on the ground in the morning after fireworks. 

A town in England – Bideford, after many complaints and petitions, did decide to change its plans for fireworks in order to protect roosts of starlings in 2019/2020. Good on you Bideford council. 

Horses are often very scared by fireworks and there are many examples of horses that have bolted and then been injured or worse, died because of fireworks. There was one example reported, just this last year at fireworks. The horse, Harry tried to bolt when it heard fireworks and impaled itself on the fence. A document on fireworks by the British Horse Society says, “Horses are flight animals and anything unexpected will startle them. The response will vary greatly according to the individual horse, but reactions can be extremely dramatic and potentially dangerous for the horse or anyone close by. [Fireworks] produce loud bangs, crackles, sudden strange lights and a burning smell.”

Apart from the sounds, in 2019, we saw some horrifying examples and images of hedgehogs being tied to fireworks and then set off. Disgusting. Fireworks containing gunpowder are a weapon. And in the wrong hands and the general public, can be used and abused very badly. In many countries around the world, they are only allowed on new year’s eve and only with tight regulations. Yet in the UK, they are allowed every night of the year, hounding our animals with terrifying sounds, smells and in some cases the parts of the fireworks coming down on them. It’s time to change the laws, limit the number of days they are allowed on, reduce the decibels of those that are let off and ban the sale to the public. It’s gone ridiculous now. Weddings, celebrations, showing off your money, letting off lights at Christmas, leaving the EU – any reason to let off a firework. It’s ridiculous. It’s selfish – for humans such as sufferers of PTSD, war veterans, those with hyperacusis, dementia and more – and for animals – pets and wildlife – and for the environment as we throw toxins into the air. 

OK humans. Want to be responsible for this planet? What can you do? 

  • Share this blog in every group you are in on social media and in emails – particularly those not related to fireworks, to reach new audiences
  • There have been 3 debates and a petitions inquiry and now the UK government is due to review what to do in 2020. Now is the time to write to your MP and ask them to push the government to take drastic action. Reduce the number of days to just a handful a year and ban the sale to the public.
  • Write to your councils asking them to change what they allow. As you can see in Bideford, they can do this. Push. You can use the RSPCA template to ask them to change which are allowed
  • Ask your friends and neighbours not to let them off or if they insist, to at least use those with lower bang ratings – which are available among most fireworks sellers and those that do displays
  • Support petitions 
  • Record every firework you hear through the year
  • Read more blogs on the impacts of fireworks and share these too: Environmental impact, impact on war veterans and sufferers of PTSD and on assistance dogs

Assistance Dogs and Humans – a Great Partnership – until Humans let off Fireworks that Cause Distress to Dogs

According to Assistance Dogs UK, “Over 7,000 disabled people in the UK rely on an assistance dog to help with practical tasks – offering emotional support and independence.” These include guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for deaf people, assistance in disability and medical detection dogs. Additionally to the fully trained ones, many dogs support children with autism, people with dementia and people with mental health problems. 

In so many ways, dogs improve people’s wellbeing, health and make them less socially isolated. And yet despite all that they do for humans, we repay them by regularly letting off fireworks that cause distress to at least half of them. The latest obsession with fireworks is now throughout December, when people may go with all the family, including the dog member of the family, to a switch on the Christmas lights event. One lady went with her dog and fireworks were unknowingly let off, leaving the dog in fear of going out for weeks after. 

Most pet owners know of the terrible distress caused to animals because of fireworks. They don’t know what is happening, their hearing is more sensitive than ours and their fear can last for hours and days. All for a few minutes of very environmentally unfriendly chemicals and toxins thrown into the air for the sake of ‘fun’. 

An example of how this impacts someone who depends on her assistance dog, in order to live life as normally as possible, is Ellen Watson. Ellen works as a clerk in the House of Commons and shared a video of her lovely labrador, Skipp, shaking with fear after the colourful rockets went off when they were out walking. The fireworks went off in the late afternoon the day before bonfire night and left Skipp rooted to the ground, shaking with fear and Ellen’s safety was at risk. 

“This is my Guide Dog, on our way home from work at 5pm, rooted to the spot & shaking with fear after fireworks went off nearby. Not only do fireworks cause extreme distress for dogs & humans, they pose risk to disabled ppls safety. This has to stop. Fireworks NEED to be regulated pic.twitter.com/yAJs8rJZJV

For Ellen, who is deaf blind after being diagnosed with Usher Syndrome, in order to fit around people’s random letting off of fireworks, Ellen had to change her work schedule and get home early on the days around fireworks. The challenge nowadays, is that these go on for months and now as per the example with Christmas lights, they are even in December and New Year – sometimes even Christmas Day. Shouldn’t society encompass everyone within it and be considerate of the needs of all? How wrong that Ellen has had to modify her life – which is already massively modified compared to how it was – in order to accommodate a few people letting off fireworks. We really need to start being more considerate. The general public needs to become more aware and therefore considerate of the impact of their actions.

At least half of pets, PLUS animals out in fields with no shelter are impacted by fireworks. Per our previous blogs, people with PTSD can suffer from them, as does the environment, through toxins and chemicals thrown into the air. It’s time to ban the sale of fireworks to the public in consideration of pets, assistance dogs, their humans, sufferers of PTSD and the environment. There are kinder, more considerate ways to celebrate and have fun. We don’t need to let them off at every opportunity – and particularly spontaneously when no one is prepared for them. 

So when you are organising Christmas lights, New Year, or a wedding, please consider the substantial number of people impacted by your desire to celebrate – and whether it’s worth it, for the few minutes of pleasure you have. If you know people organising any of the above, please ask them not to let off fireworks in consideration for most people who are against them. This obsession with fireworks at everything damages our world, the animals and many humans that live in it. Please be considerate.

85% of the British Public is Worried about Climate Change – yet we Assault the Environment with Chemicals and Metals from Fireworks…eh…?

Seems a bit of a contradiction…that we are concerned about the environment, yet we shoot metals, gases and chemicals into the environment. Friends of the Earth recently stated, “A new poll reveals that 85% of us, the British public, are worried about climate change. The urgency and concern rises year-on-year as time slips away to save our planet.”  Sir David Attenborough says we face, “Irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies ….It may sound frightening, but the scientific evidence is that if we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies.” On 1 May 2019, the UK Parliament declared a climate emergency, making the UK the first country to do so.

Michael Gell has been in touch with FAB about the impact of fireworks on the environment. Michael has a long and impressive wealth of experience in science and the environment, which you can read more about.Over the years, he has provided expert advice on national environmental pilot programmes and design and operation of greenhouse gas disclosure platforms. In 2009 he was a member of the World Economic Forum Task Force on Low Carbon Economic Prosperity. In his blogs, which warn of the environmental emergency we are in, he says that we are at a key decision time for humankind. We can either carry on how we are and destroy the planet and cause lots of suffering for humans and animals. Or we can radically change the way we live – across all areas of life – and have a chance of saving the one planet we all share. Now is our last chance. 

If you find the reality of the environmental situation we are in disturbing and depressing, the good news is that IF we change, according to Michael, we do have a chance. “The choice being faced is …to choose uninhabitability of the earth, or to mobilise and make a sharp turn by slamming the brakes on greenhouse gas emissions, putting a stop on the ransacking and poisoning of the earth and designing and building the necessary systems (technological, economic, behavioural, social, etc) in a last chance pitch for survival.” 

And for those of you that won’t read further – one way we can do that is by stopping the use of fireworks, whose metals, gunpowder, chemicals and packaging pollute and damage our environment. It’s an easy decision. For everyone else, please read on. It’s important. 

Michael explains that there are different bodies or people that impact change – central government, local government, industries and citizens for example. The good news for us all is that citizens can drive the changes that governments and industries need to make – and already for example, people eating less meat is forcing businesses to produce more plant-based food.  Just look at the supermarkets, how their shelves are filling with the new products. They are being led by citizens.

So we have 10 years to make many of the changes that are necessary. And right here, right now, we could easily remove a pollutant – fireworks – and find more environmentally friendly ways to have fun and celebrate – one for you to think about the next time you are thinking of letting that firework off – at your wedding, party or new year celebration – just consider the impact you are having on the future of our planet. An article in BBC Science Focus says, “Though beautiful, fireworks pollute the atmosphere so may not be the most green choice of entertainment.” 

The article states, “Fireworks propel a cocktail of chemicals into the atmosphere, many of which can harm both people and the environment. The vivid colours in firework displays come from metallic compounds such as barium or aluminium that can have negative impacts on animal and human health.” It goes on to explain that in order to create an explosion, you need a lot of oxygen, so many fireworks contain oxidisers known as perchlorates. These can contaminate rivers, lakes and drinking water. If our rivers and lakes are contaminated, that affects anything living in, dependent on or drinking from the river. Fish, ducks, swans, deer and more. And the water goes downstream and into our oceans, carrying the problem even further.

Michael Gell points out that a DEFRA report acknowledged the impact of fireworks. “Best estimates of emissions of air pollutants from use of fireworks are as follows: Copper 2.8 tonnes (6% of emissions in 2000), Potassium 100 tonnes (9.3% of emissions in 2000), Sodium 5.5 tonnes (0.5% of emissions in 2000), Magnesium 73 tonnes (7.6% of emissions in 2000), Barium 65 tonnes, Strontium 9.9 tonnes, Aluminium 86 tonnes, Titanium 5.3 tonnes, Carbon dioxide 160 tonnes (trivial), Carbon monoxide 120 tonnes (trivial)”. This was over 10 years ago and fireworks have increased exponentially since then. It is worth noting that climate emissions are also associated with the extended lifecycle of fireworks – from manufacturing (often in China), shipping, sales and of course emissions from emergency, health, veterinary and other (e.g. building repair) services required to address the aftermath of their use.

The Scottish government’s Safer Communities Directorate has in October this year, published information on the impact of fireworks – on health, the environment and noise effects: “Short term health effects may include asthma attacks, coughs, fever and severe asthma, and even pneumonia (Hirai et al., 2000). Longer term health effects may also include respiratory and cardiovascular system diseases, and an increased risk of cancer. …High build-up of metal elements through both fine and coarse particulate matter in the body can adversely affect human health.” If it does this to humans – where more time and effort on research is spent, think what it is doing to all the wildlife breathing in the air we pollute for them? And what all of that is doing to plants, water, trees that protect us…

The Directorate says, “There is some evidence from outwith Scotland to suggest that restricting firework use could benefit the environment by reducing pollution from fireworks emissions as well as secondary fires.” Repeat – we are in a climate emergency – and restricting fireworks would benefit the environment by reducing pollution. Got it? They are not good. We can live without them. No brainer.

An ITV article on 5th November 2019 also refers to the toxicity of fireworks. “Bonfires and fireworks send November 5 air pollution levels soaring, study suggests.” It refers to a study where thousands of sensors take readings of particulate matter. “A study in Newcastle and Gateshead found that in 2018, pollution levels were four times higher in the evening of Bonfire Night than they were earlier in the day.” We already have issues with our air quality, and yet the article states, the pollution levels rise to “Eight times the World Health Organisation’s recommended safe limit of 10 micrograms/m3.” 

Do I need to go on? We are in a crucial point in the history of our earth, when every one of us can make a difference by our decisions, behaviours and actions. And for our consciences, we have to. Fireworks pollute the air, the particles release metallic substances and chemicals into the environment, covering our trees, going into our rivers and lakes and into oceans – contaminating the world we live in – that we have 10 years to protect. Isn’t it time to simply remove this pollutant and stop letting off fireworks?  In 2019 Sainsbury’s became the first major supermarket to stop selling fireworks at its 2,300 stores across the UK.  Given that the UK government has declared a climate and ecological emergency, wouldn’t a sensible action be to ban fireworks…

It’s time for we human beings to be drastically more considerate of the environment, stop abusing it and the natural world. To stop behaving like nothing else is impacted by our actions. It’s time to be considerate and ban fireworks! 

The Fireworks Campaign (FAB) is releasing a series of blogs and images on the impact of fireworks. You can find out more and read about the effects of fireworks on war veterans and other PTSD sufferers and please share these with anyone you know, to help spread the awareness of their dreadful impact.

Why those who keep you safe deserve your consideration: How fireworks affect many PTSD sufferers

“Oh, it’s for fun,” is what we often hear by those supportive of fireworks. Weddings, parties, concerts throughout the year, as well as October to January for Diwali, Guy Fawkes and New Year. But for thousands of people across the UK, it is completely the opposite and far from fun. A few minutes of ‘fun’ for a relatively small number of people can cause months of distress for thousands of others, as you will read below. We will cover many of the people affected in a series of blogs –  some sufferers of PTSD, dementia, some on the autism spectrum, with anxiety, some living with fibromyalgia, hyperacusis and more. But today we will look at many people who suffer from PTSD and some war veterans, who suffer dreadfully from the sounds and smells of fireworks.

What is PTSD and who can be affected?

1 in 10 people in the UK develop post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to PTSD UK. So in a small to medium town of 20,000 people, that is 2,000 people. In your road with say 100 people living in it, you could have 10 people living with PTSD and who may be impacted by your actions. We have examples of people, who got in touch with us who are terribly affected by fireworks. Each bang can take them back to the trauma they initially experienced and make them anxious and extremely agitated, sometimes reduced to tears. So read on to understand more and why you are not being the ‘fun police’ when standing up to fireworks. You are being considerate and standing up for 1 in 10 people affected by a traumatic event – let alone many others, as we mentioned above.

According to PTSD UK, “PTSD is essentially a memory-filing error caused by a traumatic event and can affect anyone who has been exposed to a traumatic event. The defining characteristic of a traumatic event is its capacity to provoke fear, helplessness, or horror in response to the threat of injury or death and therefore can affect anyone. Examples of traumatic events include serious accidents such as road traffic accidents, being told you have a life-threatening illness, bereavement, violent personal assault, such as a physical attack, sexual assault, robbery, or mugging, military combat, a terrorist attack..” and more. 

The charity states examples of how many people are affected: 1 in 5 firefighters, 70% of rape victims, 2 in 3 Prisoners of War, 40% of people who experienced a sudden death of a loved one, and an estimated 10,000 women a year following a traumatic childbirth.

So why is it relevant for us to be considerate of people who suffer from PTSD in our choices around fireworks?

Sufferers of PTSD can often find it difficult to tolerate certain sounds and some sounds provoke fear. Additionally, triggers can give flashbacks to a traumatic event which was experienced. PTSD UK in its blog on flashbacks says, “When you experience something really traumatic, your body suspends ‘normal operations’ and temporarily shuts down some bodily functions such as memory processing. During trauma, your brain thinks ‘processing and understanding what is going on right now is not important! Getting your legs ready to run, your heart rate up, and your arms ready to fight this danger is what’s important right now, I’ll get back to the processing later.’” So the brain suspends the event but recalls the sensory information around that – like we can often remember where we were or what we were doing when something important in our lives happened. You might remember what you were eating, drinking, what you could smell, hear and so forth and often for PTSD sufferers, the blog explains, when you hear or smell similar things again, it takes you back and your body and mind goes into the fight or flight response it had to deal with then. Taking you back and re-living the trauma. Time and time again. 

This month of November, we take time to acknowledge and be grateful for, the sacrifices that the current and previous armed forces take and have taken for us – to keep us safe. We wear poppies in respect and gratitude. Many have sacrificed their lives in doing so but many still live, but with the trauma of what they faced always with them. When a group of people wants to ‘have fun’ and not be limited from that, in letting fireworks off, they can be reminding and making some war veterans re-live the trauma they experienced. 

This year, walking with the wounded posted a blog. “Remember, remember our veterans on the fifth of November. While fireworks and bonfires are used to celebrate Guy Fawkes and Diwali, for some, the loud bangs and smells can trigger symptoms of post-traumatic stress…For some veterans, the smells, sights and sounds of Bonfire night are all too similar to those experienced in combat.”

Here is an example where the wife of a war veteran explains how fireworks affect her husband:

“My husband is a war veteran. He served in the Welsh Guards for 22 years and sustained life-changing injuries in the Falklands War. He actually died on the runway at Port Stanley airstrip. He received CPR from a colleague and thankfully he was resuscitated, but because of the lack of oxygen to his brain, he has brain injury and back problems and lost his leg below the knee. Part of his left foot was also blown away. This happened when a harrier jet accidentally fired the sidewinder missiles it was carrying. So as you can imagine, loud bangs affect him. He becomes very agitated and shaking, breaks out in a cold clammy sweat and is reduced to tears. It’s pitiful to see a grown strong man reduced to tears due to the noise of fireworks. We put the television on very loud, but I can see by his face it really gets to him. When these fireworks are going off all the time, it is terrible to watch him. I really think they should be banned on the street and only used in an organised event.”

Here is another example:

I would like to give you an insight as to how Firework Season impacts on the life of myself and my husband who suffers from Complex Combat PTSD & Enduring Personality Change After Catastrophic Reaction after serving ten years in the Armed Forces. Please note the term Firework Season as it just seems to get longer and longer with each passing year, then just when you think it’s safe, along comes New Years Eve and we start all over again. He lives ‘safely’ in his bubble he has created to not only protect him but to protect us around him. Suddenly his bubble is no longer safe, as all around him at any given time are fireworks. It’s not only the sound or the flash. It’s the smell and if close enough the feel of them going off. Firework Season for my husband means there is added anxiety, hyper vigilance and anxiety-induced incontinence, less sleep, more nightmares and flashbacks. He doesn’t eat when he’s anxious, due to the PTSD and anxiety he now also suffers with GORD. All we ask is that you consider the idea that it be organised displays only and only for a limited period around Guy Fawkes. At least the people like my husband and those with pets can at least be prepared.”

So to be clear, war veterans sacrificed what their life was, for us and to keep us safe – and we think people are being ‘fun police’ and ruining their fun of a few minutes by letting off fireworks that cause immense distress, make them feel unsafe and make them re-live that painful experience..? Just think about that one for a moment. Is the balance of a few moments of ‘fun’, versus immense distress and trauma re-lived – for people whose life is radically changed because of trying to protect you and those around you – really worth it? Really? If, while you are standing drinking mulled wine, enjoying the loud bangs and colours, you could have a live video stream to people who might be cowering in their house, might that change your behaviour? And might thinking about this make you take action – pass this blog on, tell more people about it, write to your MP once the election is over?

Jamie suffers from PTSD . He was involved in an electrical explosion 10 years ago and 45% of his body was covered in flames and burnt. One bang from a firework can take him back to that traumatic and life-threatening event. You can watch his video here of his views on fireworks and how they affect him and also his dogs:

“It took me years to recover from that physically. Mentally, I can be taken back there in a flash. All it takes is someone thoughtlessly letting off a firework without me knowing and I am back there. Think about those people who fought for our country, who have been fighting – war, gunshots, bombs. With fireworks, you can be taking people right back to that moment.”

Amanda’s daughter suffers from PTSD:

“Basically where I live, the fireworks have been going off since October at all hours and my kids can’t take it anymore. My daughter has PTSD, ADHD and sensory issues. I can’t even get her from school to my house at 3.20pm. The fireworks are booming away and I’m physically walking her home with my hands over her ear defenders whilst also trying to stop my son from running off because he’s also scared. My child should not have to sleep with ear defenders on or have night terrors because of these fireworks.  And round here it’s teenagers letting them off too. I have signed every petition I can find for the past 6 years and I’m totally fed up with it all. My daughter will have a breakdown if this carries on.”

People letting off loud fireworks sometimes say, “Oh well no one complained so we will carry on,” but often people can’t or don’t want to keep complaining, as they feel bad to ‘ruin’ other people’s fun. Or they see they are helpless and can’t change it. Isn’t it time for the rest of us to speak out for them and say, ‘Hey, we can sacrifice a little ‘fun’ to make your lives better. We have plenty of ways to enjoy ourselves, that is more considerate of others.’

We know there are so many of you and my heart goes out to you for the distress that the inconsideration of others causes you. Many recent surveys/polls have shown 80 to 90% support for changes in regulations in the UK. Behaviour needs to change and people be aware that fireworks are inconsiderate, as well as the law changing so they can’t go off much and their impact limited. But for behaviour and the law to change, each person reading this blog needs to share it, tell others about it, write to their local MP once they are back, write to people doing displays etc.

By doing so, you are being considerate and respectful. People can enjoy themselves in quieter, less distressing, less polluting ways. Let’s be a considerate society that considers all humans within it, as well as all animals with whom we share this planet and the natural environment.  

#notpartofthejob #banfireworks

Latest FAB news. – 8.5.19

REPLY FROM OPSS

We have received a  reply from OPSS following  the hand in of the the change.org petition. This petition is still running and has close to 379,000 signatures. We would love  more so please make sure you have signed and shared.  Here is the reply Julie Doorne Response Letter Fireworks Petition FINAL (002)

 

CLOSING OF FACEBOOK GROUP

A decision was made to close the FB group. We all felt it had done it’s job and having achieved three debates there was not much more we could do on that score.  It has been archived so is still visible to members but unless there is some very big news there will be no new  comments or posts. The page will remain open for the time being but with slightly less admin attention.

This website will be kept open so check in/follow/subscribe, whatever you need to do to stay in the loop. Any news will be posted on here too.

We should say a massive thank you to everyone who supported the facebook campaign, obviously without you it would have been four women sitting at their own kitchen tables just talking to each other on messenger!  So thank you.

Although the FB group has closed that doesn’t mean FAB have shut up shop and gone away. Just taking  back a bit of space in our lives.

 

PETITIONS COMMITTEE INQUIRY

UPDATE.  The petitions committee asked me to speak at the inquiry which will be on June 11th 2019. Sadly I will not be in the country, Sue Kerr an admin from FAB is going to attend for us. I have heard from the committee and they are saying they will have their report ready before the 5th November this year. Very excited to see the outcome of our campaign.

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As I hope you all know, the Petitions Committee called for an inquiry into firework use. Thank goodness someone in government took us seriously.  They asked for submissions from interested parties and to date there are 327. If you would like to view them here is the link.

The actual inquiry is on June 11th. I was invited to speak but sadly I am in Montana. Sue Kerr is going to speak on FABs behalf , thankfully,  it was a chance we couldn’t miss!. If you want to watch that inquiry it will more than likely be on Parliament TV. Look at this link closer to the date.

It is too late to send in a submission but you could always write to your MP, especially if they happen to be on the petitions committee. Even if they are not…. writetothem.com

It would be good to remind your MPs what it is about fireworks that cause you distress, it will be an especially  good idea to do it in the summer, they tend to think most of the problems are knee jerk reactions. This obviously won’t be the case with a letter in May!

 

 

Please stay tuned for any updates.. so long for now…

Whooo hooooo …… ANOTHER Firework Debate…

I am beyond excited about this. To be honest I didn’t think we would get another debate. The time before last time we achieved over the 100,000 they refused a debate as they said they had not long had one on same subject.. NOW we have two in the same year.

THEY MUST HAVE REALISED IT IS IMPORTANT TO SO MANY PEOPLE 

SO now we have to gather the information to send to MPs and rally our support .

Firstly, even if you have written recently to your MP, please just drop them a quick email to remind them the debate is on 26th November 2018 at 4.30 in Westminster Hall.  It is big in our world but not in theirs, so a gentle reminder is in order.  You can email on writetothem.com .It is very quick and easy, takes minutes and costs you nothing.

Secondly, I am going, next week to hand over the change.org petition and I would really love some support. If you can get to Birmingham it would be great to see you all. Date and time tba. I am hoping the media will be there, so you may get your pic in the paper..(make sure you haven’t gone sick from work..just in case.. awkward!)

This is all happening very quickly so don’t hang around, send your email, share the petition, the more signatures the better. Whip up as much support as possible…

Thank you for your continued support. Will put the handover time and date on the page.

See you there. 🙂   Julie

crash, bang and a shaking Mia — Mia’s Travels UK

Mia hates this time of the year. Not that she is aware of what is to come, and for that we are grateful. Imagine if she had the comprehension that fireworks were coming, she would be a nervous wreck waiting for them to start. She hates fireworks (and thunder, loud bangs and we have now […]

via crash, bang and a shaking Mia — Mia’s Travels UK

What now?

So, after another dreadful firework ‘night’ running into another dreadful firework ‘season’. What are we going to do to save some of our pets who don’t have a voice, and those of our family and friends, some of whom are suffering unimaginable distress and anxiety?

I have been sent hundreds of photographs and videos of animals in great distress. Something the Animal Welfare Act is supposed to protect them against. The AWA2006 is not fit for purpose. There is no way for pet owners to use this act. The police (virtually 100%) refuse to get involved. Who else is there to uphold the law, if not them? When writing to MPs the majority send back a copy of the law as it stands … well it doesn’t really STAND does it? It mostly falls over!

I don’t believe I have to list the many conditions, we humans suffer, that are exacerbated by random bangs and flashes which occur during firework ‘season’. And it is a ‘season’, even spoken of in parliament as ‘firework season’. It used to be traditional bonfire night…. no longer can we prepare ourselves or our pets for Guy Fawkes, the one night of fireworks.

The one human condition I will refer to is PTSD.  Whether this is Complex combat PTSD / Combat PTSD, or one of the many other PTSD diagnosis caused by reasons too many to mention. It needs to be said: People who suffer from PTSD have quite enough on their plate without being scared to go out during autumn/winter evenings and increasingly during daylight hours through the winter OR scared to sit in – just waiting …. Or having to medicate ………….Or deciding that there is only one way to escape.

Aside from distress caused to humans and animals, it seems little thought has been given to the abuse against our emergency services who during the ‘season’ are regularly hoax called, only to be ambushed by youths and pelted with fireworks, bricks and bottles. The emergency services are there to protect and save us and this is their reward. Police attend with ambulance crews regularly during this time, as even those that are doing their jobs saving lives are not immune to what appears to be a new sport of firework darts, with the emergency services standing in for the dart board.  Every day during the busy season there are stories that defy logic, fireworks used as weapons as gangs of teenagers fire them at each other in running street battles, fireworks let off into shops, buses, busy streets with no mind to who is walking.  This year yet again we hear of the most heinous crime, fireworks shot at a blind person and their dog, even worse this is not the first time this happened.

I hardly dare mention (in case any terrorist is reading this and doesn’t know) fireworks contain gunpowder. Now I know that the amount of actual gun powder in a firework is minimal and probably several let off together would not blow up a bus. Can you imagine though, how easily fireworks could cause a distraction and chaos if just a few were let off, on say, a London underground platform?   Yes but, I hear you say, if we banned sales they would import from abroad. Of course, illegal imports are ongoing, they are however, subject to another law and other policing. If we banned sales, ALL fireworks would be illegal – easy to check if a legal display is in the area.  Much easier to police You can’t have a secret firework party.

There are possibly 20 Petitions online as is usual this time of year. People are at the end of their tether, they are trying to find a voice. FAB will be their voice.

  • Maybe having seen again the reaction of their ex-marine husband…. (Sorry you will have to imagine what PTSD does to some of our armed forces personnel, I can’t write it here, it seems wrong somehow and is not for me to say really. I have heard first hand from wives and mothers and it makes me cry when I think of it.) Suffice to say, you would not want to be in that position.
  • Maybe they have just had their horse put to sleep because it ran through a barbed wire fence onto the road…. Oh, and injured a car driver in the process. #nothorsesfault.       NOTE … please report ALL incidents, road traffic, fireworks, etc to BHS on their incident line. These stats go to the government so definitely worth completing the short easy form.
  • Maybe they have just found their dog, after searching in vain for days, only to find it dead in a ditch. I hear many of these incidents virtually every month through autumn and winter.
  • I haven’t touched on the cost to pet owners over the season in sedatives, thunder jackets, chewed door frames, broken fences and stable doors, herbal remedies and all manner of other things we have all tried in a vain attempt to help our pets.

 

FAB will be your voice.

A little about the campaign I started. FAB (Firework Abatement Campaign) has been campaigning for over 4 years now. We have been behind 3 successful government petitions (over 100,000 each) achieving 2 government debates.  We are now using Change.org as a platform to launch the 2018 campaign.  We are using Change because we didn’t believe we would get another debate so close to the January 2018 debate. The debates did what we intended they raised the profile of the subject, they got the Government thinking, MPs talking. We also wanted to be able to update and inform our signatories and that is not possible on the government petition site.  The last time I looked we had nearly 300,000 …yes you read that right 300 thousand.  We believe this shows the strength of feeling around the random and overuse of fireworks.  I personally, would like to get 500,000, at least, by Christmas. Hoping then to push that even further over New Year.

I really do understand why people want to start their own petitions; after all I did! I would just like to say however; this 2018 petition is all encompassing. We have tried for a ban, tried for restricted dates, and although they achieved a debate the MPs at that debate could not agree what end game they wanted AND IF THE MPs CAN’T AGREE, what hope for us?  SO, this year we decided to try and force (encourage) the government to do their own research. We have asked for a review of the law. IF this is successful in persuading the MPs to get their act together and wake up and smell the coffee, regarding the distress and anxiety caused by fireworks, then it will be a job well done.

 

To help this campaign there are several things you can do ……. none of which cost you any money and very little time, especially when measured against the amount of time my two-woman team and myself have put into this on your behalf. (Not being funny but my OH goes without his dinner and ironed shirts and most other domestic duties often during firework season, he only sees the top of my head over this laptop while eating a sandwich, he has made!  Oh no don’t laugh. lol)

 

List of what you can do to help.

  1. Firstly join, like, follow the FAB website, groups and pages.

You will get a lot of ‘pinging’ from any FB post you have ‘liked’ ‘commented on’ ‘shared’ or ‘posted’. You can ‘stop notifications’ on each post if you want to. Look for 3 dots next to post title/name.

  1. Sign our petition.
  2. Write to your MP, it doesn’t have to be a long email or anything fancy. Just tell them how fireworks affect you or yours.
  3. LOG all fireworks you hear, (doesn’t have to be at the time) again for stats.
  4. Ring police on 101 and report fireworks after curfew – 11pm except 5th, New Year, Diwali, Chinese New Year. NB Get an incident number or your report will go in the bin. We need the numbers for stats again to go to Government. They only listen to numbers.
  5. Whenever you see a post about fireworks comment with the petition. You can add a sentence to say, “sign for a review of the law…everything else has been debated and rejected.”
  6. If there is a post where animals are injured, we are collecting for stats on the fab anti random firework page. Please ask owner to post on page.

So, the bottom line is, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 has no teeth and the Firework Act 2003 with the Firework Regulations 2004 are also useless protection against fireworks. None of them are fit for purpose.

Therefore, the law must be changed, it can be reviewed by the Office of Product Safety and Standards. This office has the power to recommend to ministers. If you would like to email OPSS yourself here is their email.

We are also supporting the Government petition asking for a ban on public sales.

 

LINKS

https://www.change.org/p/office-for-product-safety-and-standards-review-firework-rules-to-protect-animals-from-injury-and-distress – 333,669 at last count

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/231147  —  240,128 signatures at last count.