Be neighborly: Consider people with PTSD, pets when setting off fireworks

Those using fireworks this Fourth of July urged to consider neighbors, pets

ORLANDO, Fla. – As plenty of people prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July, Orlando area leaders are reminding residents to be aware that fireworks can be harmful to their neighbors and pets.

Preparing for the holiday means making sure pets are prepared for what can be a stressful and traumatic experience dealing with the loud noises that come from fireworks. 

"It's usually the day after that's the most busy because a lot of dogs escape because of the banging and all that," said Jennifer Estiverne, an animal behaviorist with Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.

Estiverne said she sees the general public becoming more aware of the issue when it comes to making sure pets are ready for the loud sounds of fireworks, whether it's leaving pets at home away from the fireworks, giving them an anxiety vest or desensitizing them to the loud noises. 

"Hopefully, by this time they understand this is an issue with dogs as well as with humans, they can get quite stressed," Estiverne said. 

Law enforcement agencies have been spreading the word through social media posts over the past few years detailing what you should do not just for pets, but with neighbors as well.

Dr. Deborah C. Beidel, director of UCF Restores, which provides treatment to individuals suffering from trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, said it's bad enough the fireworks happen one day, but now people set them off in the days leading up to and after the event.

“Sights, sounds and smells can be a trigger for PTSD. Fireworks meet all three criteria -- and you can’t escape them once they start,” Beidel said in a Facebook post.

UCF Restores posted a reminder to social media asking people to consider people who suffer because of the fireworks. 

"Although it's a lot of noise, a lot of men gave a lot of lives and service," World War II veteran William McGregor said.

While the fireworks don't bother him, McGregor knows those still suffering from PTSD and appreciates that people are starting to be more courteous to those veterans who are triggered by loud sounds.

"I think respect is the most important thing in our lives today," he said. 

Those planning on using fireworks are encouraged to reach out to their neighbors to help them better prepare.

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