Concerns about the impact of fireworks and bangers on babies and people suffering hearing impairments have been raised by the Gibraltar Hearing Impaired Tinnitus Association [GHITA], amid continued debate about how Gibraltar celebrates the New Year.
The wide use of loud fireworks across built-up areas of Gibraltar can cause distress for people who suffer from Hyperacusis, a condition that results in intolerance to normal environmental sounds and an inability to deal with quick shifts in sound loudness.
Edgar Triay, acting chairman of GHITA, told the Chronicle that one member of the association who suffers Hyperacusis “finds himself defenceless in his estate” every Christmas.
The Association is concerned about the noise levels during the Christmas period especially on New Year’s Eve due to fireworks and acknowledges that it “is very hard to go against tradition and popular culture.”
“For years we have been advising on the dangers of noise-induced hearing loss which is forgotten by all,” he said.
“When listening to the Fire Service and the Police they point out fire safety but none mention hearing safety,” he added.
Mr Triay also stated that “babies are most at risk when exposed in enclosed areas such fireworks in Casemates.”
GHITA’s concerns, raised in response to questions from the Chronicle, came as Gibraltar’s veterinary surgeons confirmed they had provided scores of dog owners with sedatives for their pets.
Approximately 150 dogs on the Rock were sedated on New Year’s Eve due to their reactions to fireworks, according to the two veterinary clinics in Gibraltar.
The topic of fireworks has sparked fevered debate on social media, where opinion is split for and against and there is no clear consensus.
Mr Triay believes there is a solution to the annual concerns.
“A number of cities in the world have introduced silent fireworks that considering the smallness of Gibraltar where everything is near would be ideal,” he said.