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In Focus: Safe and Inclusive Fourth of July

Posted at 5:15 AM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-02 18:24:18-04

BALTIMORE — As we head into the holiday weekend, WMAR-2 News is putting safety and inclusivity in focus.

Safety
Anne Arundel Fire Captain Russ Davies reminds Marylanders that the safest way to enjoy fireworks, is to leave it to the professionals.

Dr. Therese Canares from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, agrees.

Canares teaches pediatric emergency medicine at the University.

"Fireworks are explosives. They're dangerous. And this really is not a toy that a child of any age should play with," she says.

"I've seen children.. getting burned from sparklers," Canares warns. "I've seen teenagers also get burned by fireworks."

Davies adds, "We've had house fires that have caused significant damage, because a firework was not properly disposed of."

If you're pulling out the BBQ this weekend, remember to keep it a safe distance from your house.

Davies recommends 15 feet, and says that kids and pets should be kept 3 feet away.

And if you're heading out on a boat trip - Captian Davies says, be sure to make a float plan.

Water Safety Russ Davies

Inclusivity
Even if we keep our fireworks celebrations safe, not everyone has the same reaction to that kind of festive celebrations.

If you have veterans, trauma survivors or people on the autism spectrum coming to a celebration, experts recommend talking to those people beforehand to make sure everyone knows what to expect.

Dr. Erin Romero is a clinical psychologist at the VA Maryland Health Care System and says unexpected fireworks can trigger traumatic memories, in veterans and other survivors of trauma.

"Fireworks can be a reminder [of] traumatic memories," she says. "For some veterans who have experienced trauma in combat, particularly, because fireworks can sound like gunshots."

Romero advises letting people know ahead of time when the fireworks are about to start.

Communication is also a key factor for people on the autism spectrum, according to Arianna Esposito, the Director of Services and Support at Autism Speaks.

"For some, fireworks and loud noises can be really intense both visually and auditorily," says Esposito. "But not all. Some.. may really love the fireworks and that might be their favorite part of the holiday."

She says if you're hosting people on the autism spectrum, they may want to bring noise canceling headphones or their own foods.

Adding that its important to be supportive and to remember, "every person on the spectrum is different."

For autism resources, click here.
For PTSD resources, click here.