Fireworks will light up the U.S. sky this week — but they can create problems for pets, PTSD survivors and even your hearing. Here's how to stay safe.

People celebrate during a fireworks display.
Here's how to celebrate fireworks safely. (Getty Creative)

It’s almost the Fourth of July, which means it’s also time to talk about fireworks. While many people love watching the night sky full of exploding colors, these shows also come with quite a few risks — even if you’re just enjoying your local fireworks display and not setting off any on your own. Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself, your family and even your pets.

🎆 Protect your hearing from fireworks

A fireworks display isn’t just bright — it’s also loud. Fireworks can register more than 130 decibels, putting them in the most dangerous category of noise for our hearing. In fact, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) issued a warning this year about potential permanent hearing loss caused by fireworks.

Here’s what the ASHA say you can do to protect your hearing:

  • Wear hearing protection at fireworks events. Children can wear well-fitted earmuffs, while adults can use regular earplugs from drugstores. Consider purchasing musician's earplugs or a custom-fit pair for the best sound protection.

  • Stand at least 500 feet away from a fireworks launch site to minimize exposure.

  • Take regular listening breaks in order to give your ears a rest.

  • Pay attention to your body. Leave immediately if you experience pain or ringing in your ears, since these are signs of potential damage.

🐕 Protect your pets

You may know why things are so noisy on the Fourth of July. Your pets, however, have no idea.

In fact, many pets escape from their homes on the Fourth of July due to anxiety over the sudden sounds from fireworks.

While you may not be able to keep your pets completely calm, here are some pet-friendly Fourth of July tips to ensure they are as safe and happy as possible.

Before the event:

  • Consult your vet: If your pets suffers from extreme anxiety about fireworks, the veterinarian may be able to prescribe medication to keep them calm.

  • For dogs sensitive to noise, try an item like a Happy Hoodie or Mutt Muffs to help muffle the sounds.

  • Make sure your pet is wearing an ID tag in case it does get lost.

  • Update your pet’s chip with accurate contact information.

  • Keep shelter information on hand in case you need to contact one to report a lost pet.

During the Fourth of July:

  • Never leave your pets in the car, which can lead to overheating and can cause additional stress during fireworks displays.

  • Ensure that your pets are inside and unable to escape from your home. Keep shades drawn to minimize noise and light from fireworks.

  • Keep your pets at home if you are able, and create the most comfortable environment possible with their favorite treats, toys and bedding.

  • Turn on a white-noise machine to drown out the sounds.

🧨 Reconsider sparklers

Sparklers may seem like a safer alternative to home fireworks displays, but they come with their own risks. Sparklers burn at 1,500 to 3,000 degrees, says Johns Hopkins Medicine. The Consumer Product Safety Commission found that sparklers were associated with an estimated 700 emergency department-treated injuries last year.

Sparklers can pose a particularly large risk to children. While sparklers have inherent risks, children who play with them may also not practice the safety precautions recommended, such as not swinging sparklers around and ensuring that they're keeping them far from their clothing and body.

Dr. Danelle Fisher, a pediatrician and chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., previously told Yahoo Life, “Would you give your child anything with fire on it to play with normally? No! They can backfire on you, can spit out little sparks that can light things on fire, kids can touch them and get a burn ... they're really unsafe, especially for little kids."

Want a safer alternative to sparklers for your kids? Swap out sparklers for glow sticks, which are bright but do not retain any heat.

🧘 How to remain calm during fireworks

For many people, the loud noises around the Fourth of July can be triggering and lead to anxiety and stress. This is especially true for some people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as some war veterans or gun-violence survivors.

If you find yourself anxious before the Fourth of July about the potential for fireworks, you should talk to a mental health professional, who can create a plan with you to stay as calm as possible during the holiday.

If you’re uncomfortable with the sounds of fireworks, there are ways to drown out the noise at home. White noise machines — as well as air conditioners, fans and purifiers — can provide enough sound to block out the pops from fireworks. At night, you can also try falling asleep to soothing music, or alternatively, sticking foam earplugs in to drown out any noise.