How To Reduce Fireworks Noise for People & Pets
Tips To Reduce the Sound and Stress for Loved Ones
Fireworks displays are a popular, time-honored tradition for the Fourth of July and other holidays, but they’re not fun for everyone. Children, pets, and people with PTSD can become extra stressed with the sudden explosive sounds.
Because their ears are smaller, babies and children can hear the same sound as adults but it can be louder and potentially more dangerous to them. At the same time, adults may forget that something that doesn’t seem overly loud to us may be very uncomfortable for a little person. Explosive sounds and flashes of light can be a nightmare for someone with PTSD or severe anxiety. More common than is reported, PTSD can present in people like veterans, firefighters, police officers, car crash victims and trauma survivors. When it comes to pets, July 5th is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters – there’s a reported 30% increase in lost pets each year between July 4th and 6th.
Here are some tips to reduce the sound and stress of fireworks for loved ones:
Going To See Fireworks
In general, distance and length of exposure are important to keep in mind when attending outdoor displays. Make sure you’re seated at least 500 feet away from fireworks and avoid overly-long shows or consider leaving early. Bring earmuffs for babies and child-safe earplugs for children. It’s also good to bring some comfort items like a favorite blanket or stuffed toy to help with anxiety.
Leave pets at home. Even dogs who typically don’t have issues with loud noises can be easily overwhelmed and terrified between the crowds and onslaught of unusually loud sounds for an extended period of time. Please don’t traumatize pets by bringing them to public displays. It is not safe for the animals or the people around you.
Adults with PTSD or anxiety can use foam earplugs and then earbuds playing white noise or calming sounds (or stay home).
Muffling Fireworks Sounds At Home
Sounds for babies and small children are actually louder Turn up the white noise with a machine, app, fan or air conditioner. For some, “sound masking” – layering a favorite song or playlist over the white noise will further reduce stress by introducing something familiar that feels safe. Just remember to keep these sounds at a safe volume too, no higher than 65 decibels (hearing damage can occur at 70). The CDC has a free app to check sound levels.
If your baby or small child is woken up by the fireworks, don’t immediately go in. It can take a baby from 2-12 minutes to fall back asleep, but the stimulation of seeing a parent will make them more alert. If your child isn’t in distress, give them a few minutes to self-soothe because this will likely get them back to sleep faster than if you intervene.
First, ensure that your pet has adequate, up-to-date identification in the form of a collar or microchip in the event they take off if they’re startled during a bathroom break or when someone is entering/leaving the house. Even easygoing dogs have been known to jump out of windows and break their leashes in order to escape after being startled fireworks and thunderstorms.
Stay inside. Ideally, someone should stay home if you have a dog especially, but we know that’s not always possible. In any case, do not leave pets outside. White noise and sound masking works for pets too, and if you won’t be home, you can raise the decibel level of the soothing sounds to 85 decibels. Ensure they have a safe space that can also help muffle the noise like a crate or bed with lots of blankets in a closet, basement or other sound-protected area. Extra blankets will allow them to burrow and offer extra comfort. If you will be home, playing with or petting them in their protected spaces will help soothe anxiety, and there are also CBD oils and other anti-anxiety medications available over-the-counter or from your vet.
Make a safe space at home. Use white noise and layer comforting music or shows that are familiar. Try to do something distracting that you enjoy during the display. If you’re within eyesight of the fireworks, close your curtains/blinds or move to an interior room of your home. Weighted blankets have been shown to help soothe some anxiety sufferers in bed. A warm bath, breathing techniques and other relaxation tools are also helpful.
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