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Think before lighting up those fireworks

It’s less than a week until Fourth of July, which means a number of people will be shopping for fireworks for the holiday.

Some might even intend to shoot them off this weekend. If so, best be aware of what’s allowed in your community.

A relatively new law in Michigan reduced from 30 to 12 the number of days local governments can’t ban fireworks, all around federal holidays. They are:

— Dec. 31 until 1 a.m. on Jan. 1.

— Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend until 11:45 p.m.

— June 29 to July 4 — and July 5 if the date falls on a Friday or Saturday, which it does this year — until 11:45 p.m.

— Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend until 11:45 p.m.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also issued a reminder this week that fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices are prohibited on all national forest system lands.

Even if the state does guarantee fireworks can be fired up on those dozen days, it’s also worth considering who might be affected in your neighborhood.

Fireworks can be an impressive, colorful show of light and sound against a night sky. But as time has gone by, there has been growing awareness that for some people and pets, fireworks aren’t fun but a scary, paralyzing ordeal.

Veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder have to endure a reminder of being in combat zones or under fire.

A significant number of dogs, too, experience noise anxiety — experts cite different percentages for the problem, but several sources state that 20 to 40 percent of canines will cringe, tremble or flee when the booms and flashing lights begin. Some become so terrified they have to be sedated.

Treatments are available for noise anxiety in canines, such as swaddling jackets, homeopathic remedies, soothing music CDs and medications.

But those who have pets that cower at the first pop, bang, whistle or shriek likely would appreciate it if you’d limit the duration of that backyard show — or forego it altogether.

So before setting off that rocket or Roman candle, consider the proximity to your neighbors, especially if they have dogs. Consider the time of day — or, even more, night. Consider how often you’re firing up those fireworks.

Even more, consider the necessity.

Even the most fervent fan of fireworks can find several nights of shows in the region through Independence Day — with it falling on a Thursday, some municipalities might very well opt to delay to Friday night. The cost to travel to one of these displays likely would be far less — and the firepower far better — than trying to do it yourself at home.

Why not plan instead to sit back on a blanket or lawn chair, relax and let the professionals provide the pyrotechnics this Fourth of July holiday? It’s safer, it’s cheaper and your neighbors will thank you.

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