The coming of a new year is celebrated in many different ways. Some do it in the form of food and consuming copious amounts of alcohol. But others will insist that putting on an amateur pyrotechnic display as the clock strikes 12 is the ultimate way to start the year.
Two of these three celebration methods are not too hazardous, provided you are not driving, but there is no doubt that setting off fireworks on New Year’s Eve has become a disruptive way of ushering in the new year.
And not only in residential areas, where pets and neighbours are the victims.
Even lighting a cracker in open areas disrupts an array of wildlife.
If you are someone who loves fireworks, aim to start the new year in a considerate way by familiarising yourself with Johannesburg’s fireworks bylaws.
Times and places
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are two of the 11 exceptions granted by the City of Johannesburg. On New Year’s Eve, fireworks may be ignited between 11pm and 1am, and on New Year’s Day from 7pm to 10pm.
No minor is authorised to use, light, or ignite fireworks at all.
No fireworks may be ignited where animals are present, which means that this applies to domestic homes. They also cannot be set off within 500m of an explosives factory or storage area, petrol depot or station, inside any building, on any agricultural holding, at any public place, or at any school, retirement home or hospital. Transgressors face a fine of up to R1,500.
Because you're a responsible person who makes Joburg great, you will follow and stick to our fireworks schedule????????
Christmas Eve: 7pm to 10pm
Day of Goodwill: 7pm to 10pm
New Year’s Eve: 11pm to 1am
New Year’s Day: 7pm to 10pm #JoburgBylaws ^NS
— City of Joburg (@CityofJoburgZA) December 30, 2019
No one may put on a fireworks display unless they have been authorised to do so by the Council, Civil Aviation Authority, and the Chief Inspector of Explosives.
Should permission be granted, a pyrotechnics and a SAPS explosives expert must be present at all times.
Applicants wishing to present a fireworks display must submit an application and a fee, to be authorised by the Chief Fire Officer, with proof that the display has been permitted by the Civil Aviation Authority, the Chief Inspector of Explosives and the property owner, and a sketch plan of the display.
The application must be submitted to the Chief Fire Officer at least two weeks before the intended date of the display.
No person may sell or make fireworks available unless they hold a fireworks licence in terms of the Explosives Act, as well as the written authority of the Chief Fire Officer.
Transgressors face a R1,500 fine should they not comply.
There are a number of events in Joburg that residents can attend, instead of setting off fireworks in residential areas.
Joburg Zoo’s annual Festival of Lights features illuminated life-size animals, as well as food and a craft market. On New Year’s Eve, they will be putting on the display from 7pm to 10pm.
Tickets are R60 for children and R120 for adults.
Joburg nightclub The Tennis Club, with MOOD, are hosting a New Year’s Eve party with a twist – the event starts after midnight on January 1 2020, and ends at 1pm.
Tickets are R100 at the door.
A quick guide for pet owners
The NSPCA’s handy guide to pet owners emphasises that all animals must have identification. Make sure to get them microchipped, and remember to update the microchip information. A collar with a name tag would be an added bonus.
If pet owners are unable to stay home with their furbabies, it is advised that they be left inside in a room, preferably with high windows, cosy corners to hide and no hazardous objects.
You can also opt to hire a pet sitter to stay with your animals.
Even if you are home with them, you can try to mask the noise by drawing the curtains, and playing calming music at a reasonable volume. Put their favourite blankets, toys and treats in the room, and make sure to feed them well before the fireworks start. This helps by making them sleepy, and thus more calm.
If your animals are especially sensitive to noise and fireworks, consult a veterinarian and get advice on possible medication that can be administered.
(Additional reporting by Alberton Record‘s Jessica-Lee Smith)