In advance of July 1st and July 4th, I would like to reiterate a point I made last January: noise is a weapon, not a “freedumb”. Noise in general, and fireworks specifically during these holidays, should be restricted, controlled, and prevented when it causes harm to others. People with PTSD, SPD, autism, misophonia, migraines, hearing loss and other conditions are strongly affected by excessive and unpredictable noise. Animals are also easily terrified, putting them and people around them at risk. I would also suggest reading the late Niki Massey’s take on fireworks, from July 2016.
From the Center for Hearing and Communication, emphasis mine:
“Calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience. Noise must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere.”
– William H. Stewart, former U.S. Surgeon General
Studies correlate noise with physiological changes in sleep, blood pressure, and digestion, and have linked noise with a negative impact on the developing fetus.
Noise and mental health
We all know the stress created by unwanted sound. Even noise that may not be at hazardous levels to our hearing can make us tense and angry. Consider how irritating the simple dripping of a faucet can be in the middle of the night, let alone more intrusive noises. Studies have found noise to be associated with increased aggression (Donnerstein and Wilson, 1976) and less helpful behavior (Mathews and Cannon, 1975). Numerous articles in major newspapers have reported noise disputes leading to violence and in England, (August, 1995) the Daily Mirror reported that in the previous six years, 16 people or more were murdered or committed suicide due to chronic noise.
I can’t enforce laws anywhere, but I can ask people to act with civility and respect towards others. It is not difficult to follow three simple rules:
- Fireworks should be limited to rural locations, not residential areas.
- Ignition of fireworks should be announced well in advance.
- Use should be restricted to a specific time and number of hours.
I have no doubt some will ignorantly respond and say, “It’s only once a year! Let people have some fun and celebrate.” Would you or they say the same thing if it were “devil’s night” at Hallowe’en and people were vandalizing your property? If you say “That’s different,” you’re saying that material objects matter more than the physical and mental well being of other people.
Noise is a weapon. It causes stress, mental injury and physical harm to those unwilling and unprepared to hear it. Basic courtesy should not be difficult, but apparently it is. It took a single search to find dozens of news stories about suicides and murders related to noise complaints.
Neighbor’s revenge: Man buys ‘building shaker’ to retaliate against noisy neighbors (youtube: TomoNews, 2017)
If excessively loud music is your noise poison, headphones are not expensive. Unfortunately the selfish and the overrated/untalented can’t seem to grasp that concept.
Back to fireworks, there are also those who injure and kill themselves due to carelessness, alcohol, and poor planning or lack of thinking. Fireworks should be limited to professional use only, not for sale to the general public.
From Insurance Journal, 2016:
The Fourth of July means fireworks across America and that can mean thousands of injuries and trips to hospital emergency wards.
An estimated 7,600 of the total 11,000 fireworks-related injuries in 2016 were treated in hospital emergency departments during the period between June 18, 2016 and July 18, 2016, according to a report on 2016 by the Consumer Products Safety Commission and its National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.
CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye held a press conference this week to bring attention to the dangers of fireworks especially for children and debut a video dramatizing the dangers of various popular fireworks including sprinklers and bottle rockets when they are misused.
“You have to keep fireworks, especially sparklers, away from kids,” Kaye said. He said sparklers burn as hot as a blowtorch.