I didn’t get to sleep until 3 a.m. on the Fourth of July.
I knew the Fourth was going to irritate my dogs. It’s always the Fourth (fireworks) and New Year’s Eve (gunshots) we know how to prepare for: Locking our three dogs up in a separate room and turning up the TV loud enough to drown out the scary sounds from outside.
For anyone who doesn’t know, even the toughest dogs can be intimidated by loud shocks. But this year, the loud-TV trick didn’t work.
Usually fireworks end around midnight, maybe even 1 a.m. This year in my neighborhood, they just kept going, and far more intense than years past.
It wasn’t just me. I checked Twitter and Facebook, and people across Michigan were grumpy. “Still awake from the fireworks.” “My neighborhood sounds like a war zone.” Stuff like that.
It didn’t begin or end on the Fourth. I started hearing late-night fireworks around the end of May. To this day, people still shoot them off late into the night.
Lots of us – and our dogs – are suffering from fireworks fatigue, a casualty of the Michigan Fireworks Act passed in 2011. And I don’t know if it’s true for anyone else, but it seems to get worse every year.
Legislators have heard complaints about late-night blasts and have proposed fines, but the law remains largely unchanged, save for an amendment that allows communities to restrict fireworks usage between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m., after three years.
The reporting on the complaints is nothing new; we see beleaguered neighbors and lawmakers airing out their concerns alongside the reminder that even though it all sucks, it earns the state millions that would have been spent in neighboring states.
But in Detroit, where I live, patrolling fireworks usage is not a high priority. And for anyone, I’d assume if you want to see fireworks, you’d go to a fireworks show. The practice is and should always be a community-minded entertainment option, not a boon for one neighbor and a headache for the rest.
If not the noise, then lawmakers should at least consider the consequences. We’ve seen two notable instances of the harm fireworks can do this year: A Detroit man killed after one of his rockets shot into his chest, and WXYZ meteorologist Dave Rexroth losing an eye while setting off fireworks in Iowa.
You can’t blame a Michigan legislator for what a weatherman does in Iowa, and you could write the man’s death off as a tragic accident. We could possibly point to residents having too much zeal for suddenly available fireworks, and the government’s duty to step in and curb that.
Yes, I’m calling for government to step in and interfere. Set more curfews. Reduce the time period to Independence Day weekend, not more holidays and the days before and after. And limit the range of fireworks people can buy.
What good is all the money Michigan rakes in if neighbors begin to hate each other? Or more importantly, what good is it if injury costs begin to skyrocket as long as the law remains in place? Let us and our dogs sleep peacefully for the next holiday, please.