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Stay safe in fireworks season

Stay safe in fireworks season

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The smell of gunpowder in the air typically means one of two things. Either someone’s bagged their animal, or it’s time for fireworks to start popping off again.

Fireworks sales began across the state on Thursday, June 25, and state law allows sale through July 4.

Chadron Police Sergeant Chelsey Stolley said Chadron allows fireworks to be set off between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. through July 3. Hours then change to allow fireworks from 8 a.m. July 4 until 1 a.m. July 5.

With regard to the possibility of fire, Stolley pointed out there have already been a few lightning strike fires, so even though we’ve had some recent rain grasses still remain dry and highly combustible. Stolley further added fireworks should not be aimed at anyone, nor set off within 300 feet of a fireworks stand, gas station or other building or area where flammable materials are present.

Unlawful discharge of fireworks can result in a city citation, though state statute charges intentional throwing of fireworks at a person, building or vehicle as a Class III misdemeanor. Those who observe unlawful discharge of fireworks are encouraged to contact the Chadron Police Department at 432-0510

When lighting fireworks, make sure there is enough room for you and others to get away. For nighttime lighting, a flashlight is handy to be able to see fuses.

A ready source of water, such as a bucket or garden hosed should be readily available in case a fire does happen. Stolley added that people should also douse their spent fireworks before disposing of them, to avoid dumpster fires.

Any unused fireworks, such as those kept for New Year’s Eve celebrations, should be kept in a cool, dry area, and inspected before discharging to avoid hazards.

While fireworks may be awe-inspiring to people, often they can have a negative effect on pets and set off anxiety in four-legged friends. Dr. Lynn Steadman with the Chadron Veterinary Clinic said in severe cases, pet owners can get a prescription for mild tranquilizers for their animals. These tranquilizers don’t hurt the animals or knock them out, but are effective in lowering anxiety levels. Steadman stressed that tranquilizers should be given at appropriate times, as if an animal is already worked up it will stay worked up even with the drug.

Another option is to create a “safe space” for pets. Using a basement space or interior room where the animal(s) will not be exposed to the flash of fireworks, set up items such as a favorite blanket and toys. This helps pets recognize the area as a safe spot. To insulate against fireworks noise, play music or run an appliance such as an air conditioner.

A third option relies more on science. Steadman note there are now pheromone collars people can order to treat anxiety. These collars, he explained, are rubber and contain a chemical that animals can smell but humans can’t. Activated by the animal’s body heat, the chemical mimics the scent secreted by mother animals when they are nursing.

Diffusers are also available, and can be added to safe areas.

Steadman said in cases of mild anxiety, simply playing with an animal can be enough distraction. In other cases, a drive to a quiet country spot when fireworks are being set off can be beneficial.

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