This year Sainsbury's announced that it was banning the sales of fireworks in its stores. Should other retailers be following suit?
Fireworks. Their bright colours and loud noises circle the air in a flurry of excitement. We stand watching, as the anticipation builds up. The noises are like the hissing of cats, and the booms akin to being in a battlefield. We jump in alarm, giggling at ourselves. But, whilst all this exhilaration is going on animals lie quivering in fear. Fireworks are not part of their life. They do not understand what they are. To them, the noises and flashing lights that make us jump are enough to scare them to death.
For dog-owners, the fear of fireworks suddenly being set off starts in late September.
40% of owners say that their cat or dog is afraid of fireworks. Equally 51% of veterinary professionals have seen a surge in pets with phobias, including fireworks, in the last two years. There are over 20million cats and dogs in the UK. This means that over 8million cats and dogs in the UK are left in a state of panic and fear when we let off a firework. These symptoms of fear can then lead to them running away and getting lost, heart-attacks, other severe damages and, ultimately, death. Are setting off fireworks, that can then lead to such pain and misery for both animal and owner, really worth keeping?
Another crucial point to note is the effect it has on birds. The debris that comes after the fireworks have exploded is toxic, and this can result in the deaths of birds and other wildlife. Equally the packaging can be harmful. In a society where approximatively 1.4million took part in a global climate strike, our attitudes and feelings of personal responsibility have changed to a much eco-friendlier approach. We often fight against the environmental issues around packaging, especially plastic, so why would Bonfire Night be any different? In tons of houses across Britain, fireworks will be opened up, their packaging disposed of carelessly. In a world that cares so deeply about the environment and wildlife, is engaging in an activity that goes against this rational?
What is equally important to note is the dangers that come from using fireworks. Fireworks contain gunpowder, meaning that they are essentially an explosive. They come with a risk of fires, burns, and death. In the UK you can purchase a firework when you are eighteen and over. The most worrying thing is that fireworks will likely be set off at parties, where alcohol may be involved, and so people’s awareness will be knocked. There is a definite lack of awareness of just how truly dangerous fireworks are and this results in tragedy every year. In American hospitals, in 2017, there was an estimated 12,900 firework-related injuries, with 54% being extreme and 36% being head-related injuries.
Yet, in light of Sainsbury’s new ban on fireworks, in all their stores, are we looking at a potential future where we see the ending of firework sales? Where animals, owners, the elderly and others (who are equally at risk) are able to live in the safe knowledge that no damage will come. After all, it is the stores that really have control over firework displays. If we do not have access to purchase, we will be unlikely to find another option and so surely it will stop.
300,000 people signed a petition last year with the aim of banning fireworks. Facts such as these inform businesses, like Sainsbury’s, that customers want the selling of fireworks to be stopped. So, if you are in favour of putting tighter controls on fireworks please do get involved in surveys and petitions.
Hopefully, we will soon live in a future where the regulations on fireworks will be stricter and the damages revolving around fireworks will be prevented.