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Fireworks on New Year's Eve: Harmful or fun tradition?

Fireworks on New Year's Eve: Harmful or fun tradition?

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Anna RusakAnna Rusak,17.12.2023 07:00

Fireworks not only affect domestic and wild animals negatively, but they also pose harm to humans. Who is exposed to their effects? Is shooting fireworks on New Year's Eve such a bad thing?

You may have heard about how fireworks can harm animals and damage the environment. Regardless of any shows involving MP Janusz Korwin-Mikke's dog (which he says is impervious to fireworks), it's unlikely to change our minds on this issue. We're also hoping for the Green Party's success in their efforts to change the law and ban fireworks on New Year's Eve.

However, you may not have realised that fireworks displays can also affect people. I'm not referring to those who handle firecrackers irresponsibly and set them off while they're drunk, causing harm to themselves or others. Fireworks can harm many people who you probably haven't considered.

Fireworks harm people with autism spectrum disorder

Individuals on the autism spectrum are particularly susceptible to experiencing the world differently, often due to heightened sensory sensitivity. A study published in the scientific journal IEEE Pulse revealed that children on the autism spectrum were more likely to report that sounds were the cause of their least pleasant experiences.

"The parents of 66 preschoolers (29 exhibiting typical development and 37 with autism) characterised situations in which their child had "good" and "bad" sensory experiences and their perception of how these situations felt to the child. The most common unpleasant experiences for both groups related to sound; the most common pleasant experiences involved touch and movement," reads the IEEE Pulse article.

Fireworks can be a disturbing and unsettling experience, especially for children with autism. According to a recent study, during a fireworks display on New Year's Eve, children on the autism spectrum may run away from home in a panic and put themselves in harm's way.

"Obvious risks become apparent, as an autistic child in a spell of panic produced by fireworks may leave his or her home, get lost, and even suffer a serious accident," reads the article.

Post-traumatic stress disorder and fireworks

In 2018, the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute conducted a study that revealed that people with post-traumatic stress syndrome can be negatively affected by sudden, unforeseen events. When they are exposed to a shocking, frightening or dangerous event, they may experience severe stress and recall their traumatic experiences. As such, fireworks may serve as a trigger for these reactions.

"It's possible that a person with PTSD when confronted with a stimulus that reminds them of a traumatic event, will feel severe stress and physiological arousal. For a soldier who has taken part in a so-called combat mission, it may be the sound of fireworks, specific smell, specific noises such as the sound associated with the call to prayer by followers of Islam, darkness or small rooms resembling shelters," reads the article on the Polish Army website.

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According to Dr Todd K. Favorite, who leads the Psychological Counseling Center at the University of Michigan, it's not the noise of an explosion that causes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Instead, it's the suddenness of the situation and the uncertainty that comes with it. Dr Favorite explains that the unpredictability of an explosion triggers the arousal system or sympathetic nervous system, which can affect the response of individuals with PTSD.

Why are fireworks on New Year's Eve a bad idea?

As you can see, there are many reasons why using fireworks on New Year's Eve is not a good idea. Not only do they harm the environment and animals, but they also have a negative impact on people's lives. Perhaps the ban on the sale of fireworks on that day should not only be limited to Wrocław, as a large group of people would benefit from it.

Cold fires are a popular and charming option if you are looking for an alternative to firecrackers. Unlike pyrotechnics, they do not harm animals or negatively affect people, making them a better choice.

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