Nelson SPCA manager Donna Walzl with Foxy Lady, left, and Philly, right. SPCA encourages people to take precautions this Guy Fawkes to keep their pets safe. Photo: Jessie Johnston.

Services prepare for fireworks

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From backyard gatherings to public displays, the sky will be illuminated with fireworks this Saturday night as locals celebrate Guy Fawkes.

While the colourful explosions make for great entertainment, every year the Nelson SPCA and Rural Fire Network deal with the downsides of the night including fires and missing and distressed animals.

Last year fire crews in the Nelson Tasman area were called to 12 fireworks related incidents, six of those on Guy Fawkes night, four during the Christmas/New Year period and two more after that in January and February.

“Be careful where you let fireworks off, make sure they’re not near anything that will ignite like scrub, make sure that they’re sturdy and well anchored and make sure you use them all up on Guy Fawkes night, we don’t want any being let off over the Christmas and New Year period, it’s becoming quite a problem for us,” says principal rural fire officer, Ian Reade.

While the recent rain has lowered the fire risk, Ian says a few fine days leading up to the main event will still see scrub, like gorse, burn.

Fire crews have also had to deal with fires started by fireworks being let off out of car windows.

Pets and larger animals are also effected by fireworks and Nelson SPCA inspector, Nicola Blasdale says their safety needs to be a priority on Guy Fawkes night.

“If people know their animals are frightened of fireworks we encourage them to plan ahead, even take them out of the area. The problem with fireworks is that they go on for such a long time, it’s not just one night, so we’d like to see the use of fireworks restricted to just organised displays and on one night of the year only.”

Tips for keeping your pets safe include closing all the doors and windows to prevent them from escaping, drawing the curtains and using the television or radio to prevent pets from hearing the fireworks, bringing your smaller animals inside if possible or making sure they have plenty of bedding to burrow into and moving livestock away from areas likely to have firework parties.

For those looking to attend a public event, Milestone Homes Top of The South Speedway will be hosting its annual fireworks display this Saturday. Gates open at 5pm.