Fireworks stands have been popping up over the last couple weeks selling California-legal “safe and sane” fireworks. While those fireworks don’t shoot high into the air or explode like the large fireworks common at larger displays — such as the one that will take place on the night of July 4 over Humboldt Bay off Eureka’s waterfront — they can still distress animals — and some people — just as much as the larger fireworks.
On Friday Tenille Choi was in Eureka buying fireworks with her father-in-law Dr. Johnathan Choi and her son — who was adamant that his age be listed as 9 and three-quarters years old — Remington Choi buying fireworks. But she wasn’t just buying any fireworks because Remington has autism and is very sensitive to loud noises.
“It’s the squeal and the pop, pop, pop,” she said.
“My ears like quiet stuff,” Remington explained.
But he still likes fireworks. He said he likes the “smoke bombs because they smell like rotten eggs,” and likes the colorful showers of sparks some spout off. So four years ago Choi started amassing a list of noiseless fireworks her whole family could enjoy with Remington.
“Each year it grows longer and longer,” she said, she even has different lists of noiseless fireworks for the three different brands sold at local stands.
The list Choi emailed to the Times-Standard has 23 types of fireworks. She said she’s shared the list on social media and says she’s gotten interest from pet owners and veterans.
On Friday she selected and her father-in-law purchased sparklers, fireworks that emit showers of sparks, fireworks that spin on the ground shooting out flames and sparks and other noiseless fireworks for Remington to enjoy.
“Before [Remington] was terrified. He would lock himself inside and put on his headphones and not even watch the fireworks. Now he lights them himself, he’s come a long way,” Choi said.
Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office animal control and facilities manager Andre Hale said pets can get freaked out by the loud noises and shock waves of fireworks.
“Every year, as soon as the fireworks go on sale we see an increase in the number of dogs reported lost or missing ... with the culmination being on the Fourth of July itself,” she said.
Hale said animals have a heightened sense of hearing, can feel the physical shock wave from nearby fireworks or may just freak out because they’re not used to those noises.
“One night there’s all these booms,” she said.
Hale recommends people take extra precautions with their pets this time of year once the fireworks start going off which includes keeping them secure inside in a quiet place, making sure the pet is wearing tags — even if locked inside Hale said she’s heard of cases of dogs breaking and escaping out windows when frightened — turn up the radio or television to drown the noise out or use commercially available products designed to keep animals calm in stressful situations.
“It depends on the pet itself,” she said.
Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Samantha Karges said deputies occasionally find illegal fireworks and that there used to be an issue with illegal fireworks in Shelter Cove in years past.
“We work with Cal Fire to address the fireworks issue,” she said.
“They have a huge potential to cause wild fires.”
Karges said that illegal fireworks are a bigger fire hazard than “safe and sane” fireworks not only because they can be bigger but they can also be faulty.
“Leave the big fireworks to the professionals,” she said.
Karges said another issue is the fireworks trash left on Humboldt County beaches.
“Put [spent fireworks] in a bucket of water overnight and dispose of it properly,” she said, otherwise all that waste ends up in the ocean. “It’s great to celebrate independence and celebrate America but these safe and sane fireworks were designed to protect you.”
Hunter Cresswell can be reached at 707-441-0506.