‘Calling 911 on the Fourth of July’

A Georgia sheriff’s department’s semi-tongue-in-cheek advisory regarding calling emergency services during the 4th of July holiday has lingered online.

As WSB-TV reported in 2022, officials in Troup County first posted the graphic:

Fact Check

Claim: Officials in Troup County posted an advisory regarding calling emergency services during the 4th of July

Description: A Georgia sheriff’s department’s posted a semi-tongue-in-cheek advisory regarding when to call 911 during the Fourth of July holiday. They advised against dialing 911 for reasons such as hearing someone lighting fireworks, debris from fireworks landing in yards, or if pets are bothered by the noise. However, they advised to call for help in situations such as when a house is set on fire or body parts are landing in their yard.

Rating: True

Rating Explanation: The content presented aligns with the claim that officials in Troup County posted an advisory regarding when to call emergency services during the 4th of July. The information is consistent and correlates with the post made by the department, thus the claim is supported.

Separated into two columns, the department advised not to dial 911 during the holiday:

  • If they hear someone lighting fireworks
  • If debris from fireworks lands in their yards
  • If “your wife is too upset to sleep”
  • If your pets are bothered enough by the noise to hide inside your home

However, the department does advise calling for help if:

  • “People just set their house on fire”
  • “Body parts are landing in my yard”
  • “My wife won’t wake up”
  • “My cat is shooting back”

While WSB’s claim that the department’s advice is “hilarious” is dubious, the premise — that emergency services are often overworked during the holiday — is shared by responders around the United States. KUOW-FM in Seattle reported in 2022 that the city’s 911 call center, which normally receives around 2,000 calls a day, registers around double that number on the 4th of July.

“Don’t call 911 to report illegal fireworks unless it’s an emergency,” said Paul Schrier, a local police consultant. “If its just illegal fireworks going off in the neighborhood that’s not an emergency that’s threatening life and property and people should not call 911.”

The Humane Society has noted the effects that fireworks-related stress can have on pets:

Many animals become so frightened by the noise and commotion of fireworks that they run from otherwise familiar environments and people, and sadly become lost They may also suffer devastating or even fatal health effects from the stress. The sudden bright flashes and sounds can cause wild animals to run into roadways, resulting in more car accidents than normal. Wildlife rehabilitation centers are often flooded with traumatized, injured and orphaned wild animals after the holiday.

The group also advises pet owners to leave their animals indoors in the event of fireworks, with a radio or television on to “soften jarring noises.” They also recommend speaking to veterinarians regarding “medications and techniques” to mitigate anxiety caused by fireworks.